The Robert Merton Award of 2021 goes to Hanno Kruse and Clemens Kroneberg for their paper titled "More than a Sorting Machine. Ethnic Boundary Making in a Stratified School System", published in the American Journal of Sociology 125(2), 2019. This is what the Award Comittee (Klarita Gërxhani, Arnout van de Rijt, Filiz Garip, Javier Polavieja) said:
"The article examines the structural conditions that shape ethnic boundary making in the school setting. More specifically, it investigates the contextual dependence of peer relations and identities by connecting school networks to local ethnic stratification.
Its empirical findings show that the relationship between educational attainment and identification with mainstream society is not context-invariant; it depends on the place particular students occupy relative to their co-ethnic peers in the wider system of stratification. The findings also show that Muslim minority students do not increase their identification as Germans even in local contexts that are particularly conducive to boundary crossing. Such a crucial finding suggests that macro-level barriers and processes can trump the effect of local-context dynamics.
The article provides an excellent balance between theoretical ambition, sophisticated empirical analysis, and substantive disciplinary relevance. It is not only a very good example of analytical sociology, but also one that can speak to a broader audience."