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 advance research 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 emerge as a result of the mismatch between a person and the environment, and path dependencies can increasingly limit a persons’ opportunities. Such dynamic processes require new theoretical and methodological approaches. Success in addressing this first challenge will have implications for the second challenge: Disseminating this work and developing interventions. This research line has been involved in an evidence-based intervention, the Finnish KiVa Koulu Anti-Bullying Intervention Program, developed by Christina Salmivalli, which views bullying as a group process. Not only bullies and victims, but also the class as a whole plays a role in the bullying process. The contribution of this research line to this intervention is the theoretical and empirical elaboration of a social network approach to bullying.

Research topics

In the WALM, we conduct 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 gain more insight into these processes, longitudinal data sets are used, such as TRAILS, KiVa, SNARE, PEAR, and PRIMS. This research line uses several analytical 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