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Guest lecture by Prof. Dr. Marlis Buchmann

On June 26, 2012, sociologist Prof. Dr. Marlis Buchmann from the Institute of Sociology at the University of Zurich, who has been the director of the Jacobs Center for Productive Youth Development since 2004, gave a guest lecture concerning “Socialization Contexts, Early Life-Course Transitions, and Competence Development”.
Prof. Dr. Marlis Buchmann and Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Hans-Peter Blossfeld  
In particular, she introduced the Swiss survey concerning children and adolescents, summarized in the study Cocon Competence and Context, which has been conducted using computer- and telephone-based interviews as well as questionnaires among the German- and French-speaking parts of Switzerland since 2006. The longitudinal study focuses on important transition periods during the life course of children and adolescents (e.g., school entry) as well as the acquisition of social and cognitive competencies. Prof. Buchmann described the vital importance of social relationships within or outside the family and reported on first results. These show that, for the cohort of six-year-olds, the quality of their parents’ relationship and the emotional closeness strongly affect the prosocial behavior of children, whereas the cohort of 15-year-olds shows that the size of their social network has a measureable direct impact on the observable prosocial behavior of the adolescent. Further exciting research questions of the Cocon study are gender differences which emerge in the quality of the transition period and in school attainments. The NEPS scientists in attendance, who are familiar with the daily challenges of a longitudinal study, were encouraged by the pleasing results regarding high panel participation of interviewees in Switzerland even in the fourth wave in 2012.