My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin:  X. Intercultural Friendship

My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: X. Intercultural Friendship

Though this may not always be true, friendships in the developed (Western) world tend to be associated with pleasure, and the idea that people enjoy each other’s company. It was claimed that friendship based on utility, dependent on what each side can do for the other, may be more readily viewed as exploitation and not as friendship (Joubran & Schwartz, 2007). Instrumental friendship seems more common in Third World cultures. Friendships of goodness, based on the idea of loving each other unconditionally and doing good to one another tends to be seen mostly as an ideal.
Let us now consider some of the dissimilarities found between specific national cultures, taking into account that comparing national cultures may do injustice to the variety of cultural differences we could find within each national culture. I will provide a few illustrations. One study found that Jewish Israeli adolescents tended to emphasize control of and conformity to friends less than Bedouin adolescents (Elbedour et al., 1997). In Ghana friendships were perceived to have a more practical base and friends tended to be more interdependent than is common in the United States (Adams & Plaut, 2003). An in-depth study on five German students in the United States found that all struggled with difficulties in friendships with Americans. Hardships were found especially in regard to the diverse interpretation of the word “friend” and divergent attitudes toward public and private spheres (Gareis, 2000). Another study found that Poles tended to experience their friendships as less intimate and less intense than North-Americans (Rybak & McAndrew, 2006). Generalizing in this respect across North-America may be hazardous, since there are variations in value orientations also between different parts of the country. Thus, one aspect affecting friendship is collectivism, and the tendency to collectivism was found to be stronger in the South of the Unites States than in other parts (Vandello & Cohen, 1999). Furthermore, in one study, which examined the association between racial/ethnic homogeneity and subjective well-being among American college students, researchers found that among American students of European origin homogeneity of friendship networks on Facebook was found to be related to subjective well-being, but this was not so for American students of other origin (Seder & Oishi, 2009).


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About the Author

Daniel WeishutDaniel J.N. Weishut, born in the Netherlands but living in Jerusalem, is a professional with a diverse background. He holds an MA in Clinical Psychology and an MBA in Integrative Business Administration, both from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and a PsyD in Clinical and Organizational Psychology from the Professional School of Psychology (Sacramento). He has about thirty years of experience in consultation and therapy with a wide variety of clients and issues, more than twenty years of practice in group facilitation, and over fifteen years of know-how in governance and management in various organizations. Daniel Weishut offers his services as a "Partner on the Way", while taking a world-view that people are diverse but equal. He works with a variety of clients, but his special interest is in work with those who have found themselves persecuted or otherwise in conflict with their social environment, because of their culture, identity or belief system. For example: migrants, expats, refugees, Holocaust survivors, soldiers, pacifists, and individuals from religious, cultural or sexual minorities. Daniel Weishut is a social activist and in this capacity he volunteers as Chairperson of the Israeli Association of Group Psychotherapy, as Member of the Membership Appeals Committee of Amnesty International and as forensic expert for the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. He also is involved in raising awareness about the situation of Bedouins around Jerusalem; awareness which led among others to the writing of his dissertation "My friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: Challenges and opportunities in intercultural friendship".

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