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Russian culture: Friends And Friendship.

RussiaFriendship is unquestionably something revered by Russian culture in general, while also being an important component of many people’s daily lives. What does friendship mean? What is this bond between people?

Respondents were asked an open-ended question about what the expression "to be friends" meant to them. As we can see from the respondents’ answers, a reverential view of friendship clearly predominates. Respondents clearly separate friendship from acquaintanceship. 40% of answers include such descriptions of friendship as devotion and faith, as well as absolute and selfless support for each other ("This is a holy thing. Mutual assistance; to rally to a friend’s side"; "when you are ready to do everything for your friend and even more"; "to support each other without being asked to"; "when you can give your own life for your friend"; "when you can depend on a person anytime" etc).

Many people consider friendship to mean full trust and frankness in relations: "absolute trust in everything"; "to share the closest things and to trust"; "entrust with a secret" etc. (30% of answers). Discussing this theme some respondents (15%) spoke about understanding and common views, solidarity of interests and similar life philosophies ("to be on the same wavelength"; "when people see what you mean").

Spending time together as one of criterion of friendship was mentioned less often - 9%: "we have fun together"; "we work and almost always have a good time together"; "to live together"; "to go fishing together, to drink and to have a chat" and so on.

There is no difference between descriptions of friendship given by men and women. At the same time, there is a prevailing opinion that men and women build their friendships in different ways (50%), while 37% say male friendship is the same as female friendship (others had difficulty answering). Young respondents under 35 were more likely to think that female friendship is different from male friendship than elderly people (58% and 39%, respectively). Respondents were also asked to describe female and male friendship.

Respondents associate female friendship first and foremost with a spiritual liaison, confidence, and emotional support: "empathy"; "psychological support"; "more understanding, more kindness of the heart"; "more spiritual relations"; "closer emotional relations"; "spiritual support"; "more lyrical and emotional"; "to pour out your heart"; "to consult with your friend" (13% of answers).

In respondents’ opinion, male friendship is based first and foremost on real action rather than emotional contacts: "men’s mutual assistance in their activities, their readiness to support each other"; "partnership and support"; "to sacrifice your whole life for a friend" (10%). Such associations seemed to produce opinions of male friendship as stronger and trustworthier: "men are friends until the end"; "this is real friendship" (8%).

Poll data shows the degree of friendship’s popularity in Russian society – only 16% of those polled say they have no friends. Elderly people were more likely to say so than young respondents (26% and 8%, respectively). These figures need no comment. It is interesting that residents of megapolises were half as likely to speak of a lack of friends than village dwellers: 10% and 22%, respectively.

As for the number of friends, respondents were most likely to say that they have two or three friends (37% of those surveyed), while 16% of those surveyed said that they have only one friend, and 13% of respondents claimed four to five friends.

Friendship usually exists between people of the same generation and with a similar social status. The majority of respondents say that there is no one among their friends who is too different from them in age, financial position or educational level (from 58% to 65% among those having friends). It is interesting that those having the experience of "unequal friendship" were more likely to claim older friends than younger ones (20% and 7%, respectively, among those having friends); richer than poorer (20% and 4%), and better educated than less so (21% and 6%, respectively). It is evident that people are first and foremost inclined to consider those with more success and life experience as friends.

Source: The Public Opinion Foundation
Nation-wide home interviews conducted March 11-12 2006 in 100 residencies in 44 regions. A sample size of 1500 respondents. Additional polls of the Moscow population, with a sample of 600 respondents. The margin of error does not exceed 3,6%.
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Posted on Thursday, July 27 @ 17:06:15 MST
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