Intercultural Relationships: The Social Science Approach Differences in Notions of Friendship What are the characteristics of a friend? How do ideas of friendship vary across cultures?Those two questions will be answered differently in every culture.“Friendships are seen in many different ways across the world. Forexample, in most Western cultures, these relationships are seen asmostly voluntary and spontaneous, in contrast to family or workrelationships” (Martin & Nakayama, 2010). Glenda Cecil
Cultural differences in notions about friendships are related to ideas about identity and values, and every culture’s value system is different. In western societies that value individualism and interdependence, they view friendships as voluntary. On the other hand, people in China who view the self always in relation to others, collectivists, believe that friendship is long-term, and involves obligations. “Friendship in China offered assurances and an intimacy that we have abandoned in America; it gave the Chinese psychic as well as material rewards that we have lost. We ourselves did feel close to the Wangs [their Chinese friends], but as Westerners, the constant gift giving and obligations left us uneasy” (Martin & Nakayama, 2010). The Social Science approach makes a unique contribution to our understanding of how different cultures define relationships. In other words, whether it be through dealing with cross-cultural employees, co-workers, relatives, or friends, knowing this information Glenda Cecil about how each culture defines relationships differently is essential in order to create and sustain those relationships.