SURF grant for research on neighbourhood media that are supposed to empower youngsters

For research on peers empowering youngsters through social media
Girl checking phone
Girl checking phone

Can youngsters empower and inspire their peers in their neighbourhood through social media? This will studied by Prof. Jeroen Jansz and Dr Julia Kneer (Media & Communication), who have received a SURF Grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research. Their project is entitled 'Homies. Neighborhood oriented media-based identities with empowering strategies'.

Youth networks as the solution, not the problem

In times of rising cultural diversity and job insecurity, children in Dutch and German urban neighbourhoods have a high need for orientation concerning their future life. In addition to these changes, the use of social media is on the rise; increasing the already existing generation gap even further.

Instead of judging this as a problematic situation, this project wants to use the youth networks as a source for improvement of the urban neighbourhoods. The main idea is to empower children (aged 12-14) through certain peers who are already well respected, responsible, and stable in life.


These homies (four Dutch and four German youngsters) will be trained and supervised by experts regarding solution oriented thinking and inspiring communication. Afterwards homies will be introduced in their neighbourhoods and they will be active for three months.

Their main communication channel with their peers and trainers will be based on mobile communication and social media networks. Accompanying surveys will investigate the living situation of the youth in the selected neighbourhoods before and after the intervention of homies. In addition, mobile diaries of the homies will give insight into their own perspectives on the ways in which their peers have changed.


Jansz and Kneer will collaborate with several organisations:

  • Coaching Supervision Impulse

  • peer2peer
  • Nederlands Jeugdinstituut
  • Vodafone

About the SURF grant

Smart Urban Regions for the Future (SURF) is a programme for knowledge development and application. Consortia of scientific researchers and professional practitioners in urban regions will work together to develop knowledge on the interfaces of space, living, accessibility, economy and administration. The programme will provide new knowledge and perspectives for action for Dutch urban regions. 

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