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Wie navigieren Kinder in ihrer sozialen Umwelt während gesellschaftlichen Krisen? Die Rolle von Vertrauen in andere, Intergruppeneinstellungen und Coping-Strategien in unterschiedlichen sozialen Räumen.

Following recent sociological diagnoses, it is continuing change (Rosa, 2014), global risks, and a reflexive interaction of uncertainties and opportunities (Beck, 2009; Giddens, 1994) that shape today’s societies. According to that and due to the recent severe societal crises, social cohesion as “the capacity of a society to ensure the well-being of all its members, minimizing disparities and avoiding marginalization“ (Europe, 2008), seems to be at stake in reflexive modern societies. The European council sets, among others, the reduction of exclusion and inequalities and trust among individuals of society as preconditions for social cohesion (ibid.; see also Putnam, 1995).

These contemporary societal diagnoses together with acute societal crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic since 2020 or the so-called refugee crisis in Europe since 2015 seem to come with now unforeseeable implications not only for adults but also for children.

Recent education research targets for instance the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on a possible re-organization of schools in the future (Brown, 2020), the impact of COVID-19 related school closings towards children’s health (Rundle et al., 2020) and parents’ experiences with home-schooling during national lock-downs (Andresen et al., 2020). Moreover, there is research on the challenges for education systems to include refugee and migrant children (Borgonovi, Piacentini, & Schleicher, 2019), and the potential of education for immigrant and refugee children to overcome societal inequality (Fouskasb, 2019). However, the specific experiences and perspectives of children during severe societal crises remain unknown. This leads to the overall question of the present dissertation project: How do children, living in different social realities, experience acute crises and how does this relate to their views of self and others (research question 1), their concepts of mutual trust (research question 2) and their coping strategies (research question 3)?

Due to the planned investigation of the specific constructs of trust, intergroup bias and coping strategies, and in terms of the specific target group of young children, the current dissertation project relies on a mixed-methods approach. The empirical basis for the project will be data out of two studies. The first study intends to answer research question 1 with the help of a quantitative approach. Data collection is by now completed, the analysis of data is ongoing and a publication of results is scheduled for autumn 2020. The second study intends to answer research questions 2 and 3 by using a qualitative approach and is currently in the planning stage. Data collection will start in spring 2021.

Data analysis of study 1 is supposed to deliver implications on children’s intergroup biases during the so-called refugee crisis and the impact of intergroup contact with refugees with regard to the refugee crisis. Analysis of study 2 will shed light on children’s perspectives on the COVID-19 pandemic and its implications on children’s social lives in terms of their trust relations towards different key groups (socio-ecological model). Moreover, it will investigate the specific coping strategies children relied on, such as their reflexive habitus, their tolerance of ambiguity, and their (mis)trust tendencies.