ABS319 - How Japanese adolescents keep their friendships: narrative identity research on high school boys and girls

1.2 Children’s development and childhood
5:40 PM, Tuesday 29 Aug 2017 (20 minutes)
Arguably, “friendship” plays a key role in identity formation, especially in late-modern societies. While individualism is expanding at the expense of traditional Japanese cultural values of collective order, harmony, and courtesy (Japanese “WA” culture), ”friendship” may have the potential of lending a new connective tissue to modern sociality. “Friendship” can change form with growth, especially in adolescence, from syntonic relationships: put their value on sameness, do same activities or like the same stuff, etc., to respect each other’s difference (individuality).  On the other hand, women tend to fail this shift and keep the syntonic friendship (respect their sameness), but does this show that women cannot develop a higher form of relationship?  When it comes to Japanese culture, syntonic attitude is traditionally made much account of holding relationships.  For Japanese adolescents, it must be hard to keep that balance between respecting their difference and keeping their sameness.
In this presentation, I will show how Japanese adolescents struggle in their relationships with friends and discuss how this is played out differently in males compared to females.  The data come from group interviews with high school students, in which boys and girls independently tell friendship-stories. The small stories of young men reveal very different positioning strategies compared to women’s narratives. I will show their understanding of gender expectation and their strategies to cope with this dilemma, in terms of what they think they should and what they want to be.
University of Hyogo