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The measure of friendship: cross-cultural perspectives

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Lucy McDonald.

Friendship is ubiquitous across societies. For this reason, the relationship provides a productive starting point for studying how people cooperate and share with each other in diverse cultural settings. Social scientists have devised many measures of friendship that might be recruited for such cross-cultural studies. However, these measures generally suffer from a serious limitation. Most have been developed to yield results among highly educated (usually college student) populations from a small set of societies. Thus, it is not at all clear how well-suited these measures are for comparing friendship across diverse cultural settings. In this talk, I describe fieldwork in Bangladesh illustrating the challenges of developing measures of friendship for cross-cultural comparisons. In addition to identifying cross-cultural commonalities in friendship, these efforts can also reveal the multiple metaphors and assessments that people use locally to describe and to judge the quality of their own friendships.

This lecture is the second of four this term organised by the new CRASSH Research Network Illuminating Friendship. Open to all.

This talk is part of the CRASSH Illuminating Friendship series.

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