Young expatriate children forming friendships: A cultural historical perspective

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The increasing trend of world trade that supports globalisation has expanded the movement of families across countries (Thomas & Kearney, 2008). There is limited research exploring the everyday settings at home and school as families’ experience new countries due to one or both parent’s employment with international companies. One area that has not been theorised is the way very young expatriate children form friendships. Hedegaard, Fleer, Bang, and Hviid (2008) propose a methodology supported by cultural-historical principles. This methodology has been used to explore the complexity of friendship formation in a sub section of the expatriate population. A multiple case study approach was used to research five families with 13 children in total (aged 3 to 7 years), transitioning to and from Malaysia. Data collected were 90 hours of digital video recording, interviews, field notes, and photographic documentation to capture the everyday lives of families. Findings reveal that Western parents place priority on their children’s social interaction when entering a new country. Play dates are used as vehicles to support the formation of social interaction and potential friendships. It is argued that Vygotsky’s (1987, 1994) theoretical framework and specifically the concept of the ideal and real form, which is an integral part of perezhivanie, are valuable for theorising friendship formation. These concepts provide a different perspective on initiating friendships as participants enter new social situations in a new country.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-105
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Research in Early Childhood Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2016


  • transition
  • friendship
  • expatriate children
  • ideal and real form
  • social interaction

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