Sibling Relationships in Early Adolescence: A Study of Israeli Arab Sisters

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Adolescent sibling relationships is a relatively unexplored area. To establish parameters of adolescent sibling relationships, an exploratory study of the relationships between early adolescent girls and their older sisters was conducted among Israeli Arab adolescents (N = 28). Analysis of open-ended interviews pointed out the special caregiving functions served by older sisters. Examination of these findings in light of American data on early and midchildhood sibling relationships and the sociocultural and political context of Israeli Arab society suggested the following propositions: (a) the caregiving functions of older sisters are continued into adolescence, (b) the specific content of sister relationships is adapted to pertinent developmental needs, and (c) cultural conditions of transition to modernity accentuate caregiving relationships among sisters. In the specific context of Israeli Arab society the culturally prescribed role of older sisters as caregivers is channeled into those specific domains (academic and social) in which mothers are least helpful. Future research should test the generalizability of these propositions for males and females in other sociocultural contexts.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-110
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Early Adolescence
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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