Publication Date


Document Type

Masters Thesis


School for Social Work


This qualitative study explored how friends talked about and developed their perceptions of one another's race and ethnicity in interracial and interethnic friendships. Members of seven friendship dyads were interviewed separately, resulting in fourteen individual interviews. Participants ranged in age from 25 through 37; they were diverse in gender, length of friendship, and how they identified racially and ethnically. Members of all friendships dyads reported that they identified differently, racially and ethnically, from one another. During their interviews, participants discussed their own ethnic and racial identities, their friend's ethnic and racial identities, communication about race and ethnicity within the friendship, ways in which differences in race and ethnicity have affected the friendship, and how they have developed their perceptions of their friend's race and ethnicity. Data from the interviews was analyzed using constant comparative analysis. Themes were identified across individual interviews, as well as across friendship dyads, and were organized into four categories: 1) roles that race and ethnicity played within friendships, 2) parallels and differences in how friends talked about their own and one another's racial and ethnic identities, 3) how people developed perceptions of their friend's racial and ethnic identities, and 4) the communication that friends had about race and ethnicity. Findings demonstrated the importance of friendships in deepening people's understandings of races and ethnicities other than their own and expanded on understandings of how friends develop their perceptions of one another's race and ethnicity.


iii, 122 p. Thesis (M.S.W.)--Smith College School for Social Work, Northampton, Mass., 2007. Includes bibliographical references (leaves 105-111).