The study of culture and human development is an increasingly popular area of research in the social sciences. Typically focusing on family-related topics such as child-rearing beliefs and practices, research on culture and human development has investigated the ways in which adult members of different cultural communities make meaning of their worlds and how these meanings shape child development (e.g., Harkness & Super, 2002; Harwood, Miller, & Irizarry, 1995). Despite this recent increase in research, however, there remain numerous gaps in our understanding of these complex processes. One of the most obvious gaps relates to the ways in which culture shapes the development of friendships among adolescents. Studies of culture and human development have rarely compared how friendships, for example, are experienced by adolescents in diverse cultural communities or how friendships themselves are cultural practices within such communities. Although the study of peer cultures has been the topic of numerous sociological studies over the past two decades (see Adler & Adler, 1997; Corsaro & Eder, 1990), an understanding of how dyadic friendships in particular are shaped by and shape the cultural communities in which they exist and are themselves a form of cultural practice has not yet been attained. Researchers, particularly in the American context, have tended to conceptualize friendships as a universal rather than a culturally situated set of relationships.
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