Being a droog vs. being a friend: A qualitative investigation of friendship models in Russia vs. Canada
Introduction. A substantial body of work has established that friendship is an important non-kin interpersonal relationship, with many positive outcomes. An issue with this literature is that it originated primarily in anglocentric Euro-American societies, when several studies have shown that the meaning of friendship varies across cultural settings. In particular, linguistic analyses advance that the meaning of friendship in Russian is quite different from that in English. The goal of this study was to seek psychological evidence of these linguistic findings by documenting similarities and differences in people’s understanding of friendship in both cultural contexts.
Methods. The research consisted of a qualitative investigation of friendship cultural models among Russian migrants to Canada, through semi-structured interviews that were analysed using an inductive thematic analysis, whereby data segments are coded and codes are gradually refined and streamlined in order to identify the main themes that emerge from the data.
Results. Participants’ depictions of friendship in Russian vs. Canadian contexts were largely in line with semantic analyses of friendship in Russian vs. English, with friendship being described as a stronger and deeper bond, but also more demanding in Russia than in Canada.
Discussion. The findings support Wierzbicka’s proposal that key terms in a language encapsulate cultural models prevalent among its speakers. The results are also consistent with the existence of close parallels between people’s cultural models and the linguistic ecologies in which they live.
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