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Demography. 2006 Aug;43(3):491-510.

Friends for better or for worse: interracial friendship in the United States as seen through wedding party photos.

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  • 1Department of Sociology, University of Toronto, 725 Spadina Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 2J4 Canada.


Friendship patterns are instrumental for testing important hypotheses about assimilation processes and group boundaries. Wedding photos provide an opportunity to directly observe a realistic representation of close interracial friendships and race relations. An analysis of 1,135 wedding party photos and related information shows that whites are especially unlikely to have black friends who are close enough to be in their wedding party. Adjusting for group size, whites and East and Southeast Asians (hereafter E/SE Asians) are equally likely to be in each other's weddings, but whites invite blacks to be in their wedding parties only half as much as blacks invite whites, and E/SE Asians invite blacks only one-fifth as much as blacks invite E/SE Asians. In interracial marriages, both E/SE Asian and black spouses in marriages to whites are significantly less likely than their white spouses to have close friendships with members of their spouse's race.

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