New Publication on How Gender and Religion Interact in Creating Religious Friendship Segregation among Muslim Youth

In a new article published in Social Forces, David Kretschmer and I show how gendered micro-level mechanisms result in religious friendship segregation among German Muslim youth.

Analysing data from religiously diverse German schools, we find similar aggregate levels of friendship segregation among Muslim boys and girls. Using stochastic actor-oriented networks models, however, we document substantial gender differences in the underlying mechanisms. As shown in the Figure below, we find that religious in-group bias is stronger for Muslim girls than for Muslim boys, but non-Muslims of either gender are reluctant to befriend Muslim boys but not girls.

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A simulation analysis further demonstrates that these gendered individual-level processes result in comparable aggregate patterns of friendship segregation among Muslim boys and girls. As the Figure below indicates, religious friendship segregation thus arises because Muslim girls tend to self-segregate and non-Muslim youth are less willing to befriend Muslim boys although the latter are open to interreligious friendships.

The bottom line is that similar aggregate levels of friendship segregation mask large gender differences in the underlying mechanisms.This gendered friendship-making behaviour has implications for the larger question of minority social integration, as we discuss in the paper.

The article is part of an ongoing DFG-funded project on the mechanisms that drive the social–emotional integration of Muslim youth.

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