Sex-mixed classes, sex-mixed friendships? The effect of sex composition of school classes on cross-sex friendships between migrants and natives
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Most friendships are between actors of the same sex. Earlier research explaining this phenomenon overlooked the role of the structural opportunities for forming friendships. Based on the opportunity theory a direct positive relation between the percentage of opposite-sex classmates and the proportion of cross-sex friendships is hypothesized and tested. Moreover, based on the intergroup contact theory and the social identity theory, an indirect relation through a person’s gender-role orientation is hypothesized and tested. Furthermore, based on various arguments, it is expected that these effects are weaker for students with a migration background than for children without a migration background. Survey data of 3768 students from 222 Dutch school classes are analyzed by structural equation modeling. The findings indicate support for a direct effect of the percentage of opposite-sex classmates on the proportion of cross-sex friendships, but not for an indirect effect through a person’s gender-role orientation. Moreover, the effects were equally strong for students with a migration background as for students without a migration background. Limitations, implications, and suggestions for future research are proposed.