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Less Socially Engaged? Participation in Friendship and Extracurricular Activities Among Racial/Ethnic Minority and Immigrant Adolescents


by Hua-Yu Cherng, Kristin Turney & Grace Kao 2014

Background/Context: Prior research has linked social engagement, such as peer interaction and participation in school activities, to a host of positive outcomes for youth and adolescents. However, little research considers patterns of social engagement among racial/ethnic minority and immigrant adolescents, despite prior research suggesting distinct racial/ethnic and generational differences in social interactions among young people.

Purpose/Objective/Research Question/Focus of Study: This paper examines patterns of social engagement in friendships and extracurricular activities among racial/ethnic minorities and immigrant adolescents. We analyze five measures of social engagement: having any friends, socializing with friends, participating in school sports, participating in school clubs, and participating in activities outside of school.

Population/Participants/Subjects: This study utilizes the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002), a nationally representative sample of high school sophomores.

Research Design: Our research design includes statistical analysis of secondary data.

Findings/Results: Overall, results show that racial/ethnic minority adolescents, as well as first- and second-generation adolescents, are less engaged in friendships than their third-generation White counterparts. In contrast, there is no clear pattern of advantage or disadvantage in extracurricular activity participation.

Conclusions/Recommendations: These findings suggest that a disproportionate number of racial/ethnic minority and immigrant adolescents are less engaged in friendships than their peers, and that schools and adults play an important role in facilitating social interactions that may not occur within informal friendship networks.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 116 Number 3, 2014, p. -
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17354, Date Accessed: 10/22/2017 9:56:13 AM

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About the Author
  • Hua-Yu Cherng
    University of Pennsylvania
    E-mail Author
    HUA-YU SEBASTIAN CHERNG is a joint doctoral student in education policy and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. His research interests are in the areas of race/ethnicity and immigration, youth and adolescence, and education. As such, his research investigates the social lives of young people, and, in particular, of racial/ethnic and immigrant adolescents in the United States. He also studies gender and ethnic differences in education in China. His work has appeared in the American Educational Research Journal and the Oxford Review of Education.
  • Kristin Turney
    University of California, Irvine
    E-mail Author
    KRISTIN TURNEY is an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of California, Irvine. Broadly, her research examines intergenerational and intragenerational processes of social stratification. Current research projects include an examination of the collateral consequences of incarceration for family life, the effects of maternal depression on mothers and children, and the heterogeneous consequences of nonmarital romantic relationships for health. These substantive interests are complimented by a methodological interest in causal inference.
  • Grace Kao
    University of Pennsylvania
    E-mail Author
    GRACE KAO is professor of sociology at University of Pennsylvania. Her work focuses on race, ethnic, and immigrant differences in educational outcomes of youth. She also studies interracial friendship and romantic relationships of youth and young adults. Her work has appeared in a wide number of journals, and she has a forthcoming book titled Education and Immigration (coauthored with Elizabeth Vaquera and Kimberly Goyette) from Polity Press.
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