Research cluster on the Social Development of Young People

Department of Sociology, University of Groningen

The aim of the WALM (Wednesday Afternoon Lunch Meetings) is to develop a research line on the social development of young people in two directions. First, new insights are needed into processes of interactive and cumulative continuity. Vicious cycles can occur as a result of the misfit between a person and the environment, and path dependencies can increasingly restrict persons’ opportunities. Such dynamic processes require new theoretical and methodological approaches. Success with this first challenge will have spin-offs for the second challenge: Disseminating this work and developing interventions. This research line was involved in an evidence-based intervention, the Finnish KiVa Koulu Anti-Bullying Intervention Program, developed by Christina Salmivalli, in which bullying is seen as a group process. Not only bullies and victims but also the class as a whole has a role in the bullying process. The input of this research line for this intervention is the theoretical and empirical elaboration of a social network approach to bullying.

Research topics

In the WALM, we carry out research on the positive and negative development of young people. Topics that are studied are:

  • academic achievement (Laninga-Wijnen, Xingna Qin)
  • antisocial behavior (Veenstra)
  • bullying and victimization (Veenstra, Huitsing, Tolmatcheff, De Vries, Zhe Dong)
  • criminal networks (Huitsing, Van Wijk)
  • family relationships of prisoners (Venema)
  • peer acceptance, rejection, and popularity (Lorijn)
  • prosocial behavior (Veenstra)
  • sexual minority health (Kiekens)
  • social networks (Huitsing, Laninga-Wijnen, Xingna Qin, Veenstra)
  • social norms (Laninga-Wijnen, Veenstra)

To get more insight into these processes, longitudinal data sets are used, such as TRAILS, KiVa, SNARE, PEAR, and PRIMS. This research line uses several analysis techniques, including social network analysis techniques such as p2 and SIENA, programs developed by colleagues in Groningen.

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Questions? Contact René Veenstra via d.r.veenstra AT