Effects of ethnic minority adolescents’ peer networks on academic achievement: the case of Damunhwa adolescents in South Korea

Jihyun Kim, Hyungmin Park, Moosung Lee

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Adolescents’ peer networks are integral part of their lives in school. In South Korea, where the demographics of adolescent population is rapidly changing with a growing influx of immigrants, providing opportunities for quality education for adolescents from immigrant and/or interracial families (called damnuhwa families in South Korea) has been one of the major social challenges. We examine those adolescents’ school lives with a focus on their peer networks. Using peer network data from 4575 adolescents from 11 public secondary schools, we found that adolescents’ in-degree centrality in expressive and instrumental peer networks had a significant positive association with their academic achievement. Our multilevel modeling analysis further indicated that such association did not vary by student groups (i.e., damunhwa vs. non-damunhwa adolescents). This finding suggests that peer support is crucial for student learning regardless of student background. At the same time, however, we also found that damunhwa adolescents tended to have lower levels of in-degree centrality and reciprocity, suggesting that their access to social capital via peer networks is relatively limited, compared to non-damunhwa peers. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)741-761
Number of pages21
JournalSocial Psychology of Education
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Jun

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research project was funded by a 2017 Korean Studies Grant (Competitive Research Project – AKS-2017-R-68). An earlier version of this study was presented at the colloquium of Hanyang University’s SSK CSMR, supported by the Ministry of Education of the Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2017S1A3A2065967).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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