The Company We Keep: Interracial Friendships and Romantic Relationships from Adolescence to Adulthood

Russell Sage Foundation
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With hate crimes on the rise and social movements like Black Lives Matter bringing increased attention to the issue of police brutality, the American public continues to be divided by issues of race. How do adolescents and young adults form friendships and romantic relationships that bridge the racial divide? In The Company We Keep, sociologists Grace Kao, Kara Joyner, and Kelly Stamper Balistreri examine how race, gender, socioeconomic status, and other factors affect the formation of interracial friendships and romantic relationships among youth. They highlight two factors that increase the likelihood of interracial romantic relationships in young adulthood: attending a diverse school and having an interracial friendship or romance in adolescence.

While research on interracial social ties has often focused on whites and blacks, Hispanics are the largest minority group and Asian Americans are the fastest growing racial group in the United States. The Company We Keep examines friendships and romantic relationships among blacks, whites, Hispanics, and Asian Americans to better understand the full spectrum of contemporary race relations. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, the authors explore the social ties of more than 15,000 individuals from their first survey responses as middle and high school students in the mid-1990s through young adulthood nearly fifteen years later. They find that while approval for interracial marriages has increased and is nearly universal among young people, interracial friendships and romantic relationships remain relatively rare, especially for whites and blacks. Black women are particularly disadvantaged in forming interracial romantic relationships, while Asian men are disadvantaged in the formation of any romantic relationships, both as adolescents and as young adults. They also find that people in same-sex romantic relationships are more likely to have partners from a different racial group than are people in different-sex relationships. The authors pay close attention to how the formation of interracial friendships and romantic relationships depends on opportunities for interracial contact. They find that the number of students choosing different-race friends and romantic partners is greater in schools that are more racially diverse, indicating that school segregation has a profound impact on young people’s social ties.

Kao, Joyner, and Balistreri analyze the ways school diversity and adolescent interracial contact intersect to lay the groundwork for interracial relationships in young adulthood. The Company We Keep provides compelling insights and hope for the future of living and loving across racial divides.
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About the author

Grace Kao is IBM Professor of Sociology at Yale University.

Kara Joyner
is professor of sociology at Bowling Green State University.

Kelly Stamper Balistreri is associate professor of sociology at Bowling Green State University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Russell Sage Foundation
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Published on
Oct 24, 2019
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Pages
208
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ISBN
9781610448888
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Language
English
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Genres
Education / Educational Psychology
Education / General
Education / Inclusive Education
Education / Multicultural Education
Education / Research
Education / Urban
Family & Relationships / Dating
Family & Relationships / Education
Family & Relationships / General
Family & Relationships / Life Stages / Adolescence
Family & Relationships / Life Stages / General
Family & Relationships / Life Stages / Teenagers
Family & Relationships / Love & Romance
Family & Relationships / Marriage & Long-Term Relationships
Family & Relationships / Peer Pressure
Family & Relationships / Prejudice
Social Science / Black Studies (Global)
Social Science / Demography
Social Science / Discrimination & Race Relations
Social Science / Emigration & Immigration
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / Asian American Studies
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / General
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / Hispanic American Studies
Social Science / General
Social Science / Minority Studies
Social Science / Research
Social Science / Sociology / General
Social Science / Sociology / Marriage & Family
Social Science / Sociology / Urban
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This content is DRM protected.
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