The experiences of friendship among Chinese immigrant adolescents

Mariana Rotenberg, Fordham University


This qualitative investigation explored the friendship experiences of Chinese immigrant adolescents, who have largely been overlooked by the research literature. The study included a sample of 19 adolescents attending a diverse public high school in a large metropolitan area in the Northeast. Students participated in semi-structured interviews which explored their friendship experiences, immigration experiences, and associated perceptions of their general environment. Interview themes were summarized and condensed into categories, which revealed adolescents' "lived" experiences of friendship. Results suggest that similarity, companionship, and intimacy form the basis of same-age friendships, but culturally specific manifestations of friendships also emerged. The current study placed these friendships within a culturally and contextually specific framework. This study highlights that for this group of adolescents, friendships are formed against backdrop of loss of social ties and linguistic/communication difficulties following migration, growing distance with family members, and the perception of the environment as unsafe. Despite the negative factors around them, many adolescents found ways to have positive and close same-age relationships, binding them together with other Chinese youth. However, many also expressed a desire and longing for deeper connections. Implications for these findings, as well as recommendations for future research are presented.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Developmental psychology|Minority & ethnic groups|Sociology

Recommended Citation

Rotenberg, Mariana, "The experiences of friendship among Chinese immigrant adolescents" (2006). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3210277.