Applied Multilevel Analysis: Explaining Xenophobia and Racism

Course content

Sociology is the study of how human attitudes and behavior are shaped by the social environment and how vice versa how the social environment emerges from human action. The investigation of context effects, where an environmental feature (e.g., a characteristic of a neighborhood or country) affects processes at a lower level (e.g., that of the individual), is therefore central to the discipline. This is also true for the topics of immigrant integration and xenophobic reactions of natives to immigration. For example: Is ethnic residential segregation hampering immigrant integration, as many politicians claim, or rather furthering it, as Segmented Assimilation Theory suggests? Are natives who are exposed to immigrants more accepting of ethnic minorities, as Contact Theory has it, or rather more xenophobic, as Group Threat Theory implies?


In recent decades, scholars have increasingly examined such context effects using quantitative statistical analysis. In this course, we will discuss sociological theory and research on the contextual sources of immigrant integration and natives’ xenophobia, and you will learn how to conduct statistical multilevel analyses of such context effects yourself. In other words, this is an introduction to multilevel analyses, applied to the topic of immigrant integration and natives’ xenophobia.


MA Research Methodology and Practice (MSc Curriculum 2015)


Course package (MSc 2015):

Welfare, inequality and mobility
Knowledge, organisation and politics
Culture, lifestyle and everyday life

Credit students must be at master level

BA-Undergraduates from foreign countries (exchange students) can sign up for this course

Learning outcome


  • What are the key theories on contextual sources of immigrant integration, and which dimension of integration (e.g. education, social contacts) do they focus on?
  • What are the key theories on contextual sources of xenophobia.
  • What are widely-held criticisms of these theories?
  • What is the most recent empirical evidence on these theories?


  • Students will be able to conduct statistical multilevel analyses with Stata or R.
  • Students will be able to apply contemporary theories to pose state-of-the art research questions on context effects on immigrant integration and xenophobia.
  • Students will be able to analyze the European Social Survey.


  • Students will increase their analytical, methodological, and logical cognitive capacities.
  • Students will be able to assess (i.e., judge the theoretical and methodological quality of) multilevel analyses (also beyond the specific topic of this class).
  • Students will be able to assess the theoretical soundness of claims about (contextual sources of) immigrant integration and xenophobia.

Lectures, class discussions, student presentations, a final paper that entails an empirical analysis. Students are expected to contribute actively to discussion of core theoretical-analytical tools as well as the more specific analytical examples and studies.

Gelman A and Hill J (2007) Data Analysis Using Regression and Multilevel/Hierarchichal Models. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Snijders TAB and Bosker RJ (2012) Multilevel Analysis: An Introduction to Basic and Advanced Multilevel Modeling. London: Sage.


Apart from these two books, readings are comprised primarily of peer-reviewed journal articles. The syllabus will consist of roughly 750 pages of reading.

This course is no introduction to statistics! I expect that students have a solid background in basic statistics. They should have a thorough understanding of linear regression (OLS) with dummy variable predictors and interaction terms.

Students will need to bring their own laptop.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)

I give structured feedback to student presentations, and the final paper. Moreover, we will systematically use student peer-feedback

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Individual or group.
A portfolio assignment is defined as a series of short assignments during the course that address one or more set questions and feedback is offered during the course. All of the assignments are submitted together for assessment at the end of the course. The portfolio assignments must be no longer than 10 pages. For group assignments, an extra 5 pages is added per additional student. Further details for this exam form can be found in the Curriculum and in the General Guide to Examinations at KUnet.
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Criteria for exam assessment

Please see the learning outcome

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 28
  • Preparation
  • 148
  • Exam
  • 30
  • English
  • 206