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Friendship Concept in American and French Cultures


The United States has a complex culture that is characterized by historical developments since colonization era. The country is made up of various ethnic and racial groups, each with special cultural system. In an interview asking a native citizen and French migrant to give their views on friendships, it was established that the concept is understood different meaning its definition is likely to vary from one culture to the other.

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In the global society, many people tend to think that learning a different language is likely to help in doing business and interacting with other members of society, but the case is different because understanding the cultural issues, such as formation of relations, is critical. The interview exposed the challenges that an individual is likely to face in the process of interaction. Therefore, understanding and acknowledging fundamental cultural aspects, such as friendship, is important to prevent ruthless misunderstanding and embarrassment in the course of interaction.

Analysis of the Interview

Charles is a Native American born and raised up in country and has lived in various suburbs. To him, a friend is any person close to you irrespective of whether you have detailed information on their backgrounds. For instance, it might be somebody you share an apartment with, the one you schooled with, or a workmate. In other words, any person you interact with frequently is a friend. From Charles’s view, friendship is formed on daily basis meaning it is not permanent, as it is likely to change whenever an individual moves from one place to another.

For instance, he explains that he has been forced to move from one city to the other consequently forming new friends. While in high school, an individual has different class of friends and as he or she moves to college, the friends change as well. Apart from education, employment is an additional factor that influences friendship because people form new ones when they secure employments elsewhere. When Charles visits special places, especially in the summer, he is likely to form various friendships since such occasions are utilized effectively in meeting and interacting with new people. American culture on friendship is casual and Charles seems satisfied with it arguing that he likes sharing ideas with new people.

Even though Charles enters into new partnerships with strangers easily, he rarely shares with them crucial information, such as marriage, employment, and investment. In fact, he narrates that no one knows any of his businesses, educational level, and marriage status apart from those close relatives who interact with him frequently. From the interview, it is evident that Americans have little regard for friendships, as they are considered casual and ordinary.

Laurent is a French migrant who has lived in the United States for six years and has been working in one organization since he was posted in the country. At first, he is disinterested in talking part in the interview process arguing that he is busy and does not feel well. Unlike Charles, who was willing to give his views right away, the researcher had to clarify a few issues to Laurent before agreeing to take part in the interview process. This explains the attitude and culture of French towards friendships and the idea of entering into new partnerships and associations. Laurent is a reserved individual who answers questions directly as compared to Charles who gives additional explanation concerning his view.

In the French culture, friendship refers to a close link between members of the same sex and the two must be committed to the relationship. Unlike in the American culture, friendship between members of the opposite sex in France is doubtful, but exceptions are given to students and workmates who might be forced to interact frequently to accomplish certain tasks. As Laurent puts it, friendship is entails a serious commitment from members whereby understanding of intellect, temperament, and interests is paramount. Additionally, only individuals with similar qualities, aspirations, expectations, and ambitions are likely to form friendships.

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Asked whether friendships are part of family lives as the case is in the United States, Laurent observed that friendship within the French culture is compartmentalized meaning you do not inquire about the likes and dislikes of a friend unless he or she volunteers to share with you. For instance, friends might be interacting on daily basis playing chess for several years yet they do not know the political opinions of each other. Meeting in apartments and homes is a common practice among friends in the United States, but the case is different in the French culture since the practice is reserved for relatives. Laurent suggests that male friends interact in social joints and their families do not accompany them meaning friendship is not a family affair as is the case in the United States.

For female friends, the interviewee observed that only intellectual women are likely to meet to discuss some of the issues that face them and the main topics centred on their girlhood even though the culture is different in the modern society since women are free to interact and share ideas. For French, a friendship has to be aligned to the cultural values seeking to strengthen the mind, improve an individual’s image, and being sensitize to the personal expectations and desires. Based on this, friendship enhances personality in the sense that it forces an individual to adjust his or her behaviour to fit in the group.

Laurent revisited history when he explained the role that friendship played in the Second World War when copains (friends) formed resistance groups to challenge the state for its involvement in the war. In the United States, friends rarely unite to fight for something instead common interests shared are fought within the context of race or ethnicity. Friendship to any French is a commitment that has to be treated with the seriousness it deserves, but Americans simply form them mainly for social purposes where the aim is to interact and have fun. Laurent claimed that close friends might come to the rescue of each other whenever a financial or economic problem arises, but the case is different in the American culture where capitalism took root long time ago.


Friendship is a cultural aspect that results in great differences among various groups in the United States. To understand the history of the country, it is important to learn the cultural issues that are likely to interfere with interaction and formation of relationships. As Charles puts it, friendship in the US is mainly for fun and socialization, but the French consider it a serious commitment with specific purposes as Laurent puts it. In any case, friendship is important in facilitating socio-cultural development in any society.

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