Gerth, Maria ORCID: 0000-0002-3918-5634 (2022). Educational attainment, school delinquency and the role of peers. PhD thesis, Universität zu Köln.

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Considering the influence of peers is important for understanding adolescents’ behavior and has been of scientific interest for decades. Thanks to scientific progress, new theoretical developments are advancing. The aim of my dissertation was to test whether those can add to our knowledge on two outcomes that are very prominent in adolescence and set the course for adult life: Educational attainment and delinquency in the school context. To do so, I conducted three self-contained papers that seek to fill two important research gaps. Turning to educational attainment, the first research gap I address is the role of peers in the realization of educational aspirations (Study 1). I invoke the concept of cultural heterogeneity to find out whether the aspirations of peers in the classroom affect the realization of Abitur aspirations for adolescents on the non-standard educational pathways in Germany (i.e. students attending Haupt-, Real- or Gesamtschulen). Using panel data of CILS4EU, I do not find convincing evidence that heterogeneity in classmates’ aspirations hampers the realization of Abitur aspirations. This contrasts findings from the U.S., where more culturally heterogeneous neighborhoods were related to a lower likelihood of realizing adolescents’ college aspirations. This suggests that the concept of cultural heterogeneity cannot be readily applied to the German school context. The second research gap my dissertation addresses, is the lacking integration of peer influence into a comprehensive, mechanism-based, action-theory in the study of delinquency in the school context. Situational Action Theory (SAT) has the potential to fill this gap and is therefore applied to two outcomes that are connected to educational attainment: Cheating in school (Study 2) and truancy (Study 3). While the value of SAT for explaining actions of rule-breaking defined in law has largely been supported by empirical tests, little is known about its ability to explain rule-breaking that is not defined in law. Using FuGJ and PADS+ data, I find support for the role of peers as specified in SAT. This underlines SAT’s potential for being a general theory for all kinds of rule-breaking.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD thesis)
Translated title:
CreatorsEmailORCIDORCID Put Code
URN: urn:nbn:de:hbz:38-633219
Date: 2022
Language: English
Faculty: Faculty of Management, Economy and Social Sciences
Divisions: Weitere Institute, Arbeits- und Forschungsgruppen > Institute of Sociology and Social Psychology (ISS)
Subjects: Social sciences
Uncontrolled Keywords:
Situational Action TheoryEnglish
Cultural heterogeneityEnglish
Peer influenceEnglish
Educational attainmentEnglish
School delinquencyEnglish
Date of oral exam: 5 September 2022
NameAcademic Title
Kroneberg, ClemensProf. Dr.
Jacob, MaritaProf'in. Dr'in.
Refereed: Yes


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