Cross-ethnic friendships: Are they really rare? Evidence from secondary schools around London

Bagci, Sabahat C.; Kumashiro, Madoka; Smith, Peter K.; Blumberg, Herbert H. and Rutland, Adam. 2014. Cross-ethnic friendships: Are they really rare? Evidence from secondary schools around London. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 41, pp. 125-137. ISSN 0147-1767 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This study examined current cross-ethnic friendship patterns in secondary schools around London, UK, and the effects of ethnic group and ethnic diversity on cross-ethnic friendship selection and quality. Questionnaires including self-report ethnic group definitions and measures of same-/cross-ethnic friendship numbers, along with the quality of 3 best cross-ethnic friends, were distributed to 684 Year 7 (aged 11) British students (256 White European, 63 Middle Easterner, 118 Black, 247 South Asian) recruited from 9 multi-ethnic secondary schools (37 classrooms) in Greater London. In contrast to most previous research which suggested the relative rarity of cross-ethnic friendships, findings showed that cross-ethnic friendships were in fact frequent and of high quality, outnumbering same-ethnic friendships for all ethnic groups. After controlling for gender, classroom gender composition, SES, percentage of available same-ethnic peers, ethnic identity and perceived ethnic discrimination, classroom ethnic diversity still had a marginally positive effect on cross-ethnic friendship selection, but had no effect on cross-ethnic friendship quality. White British children reported higher cross-ethnic friendship selection and lower cross-ethnic friendship quality compared to other ethnic groups, but this depended on classroom ethnic diversity. Implications of the findings are discussed in the light of intergroup contact and friendship formation theories. We conclude that research on cross-ethnic friendships is crucial in providing insights into how intergroup relationships are formed during early adolescence in modern multiethnic settings like London secondary schools.

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Cross-ethnic; Friendships; Ethnic diversity; Ethnic group; Secondary schools

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July 2014Published

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29 Oct 2014 11:56

Last Modified:

04 Jul 2017 12:54

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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