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Danny Kaplan and Niza Yanay

Based on a case study of Israeli men's friendships, this article examines the inter-relations between the experience of male relationships in everyday life and established representations of fraternal friendship. We delineate a script for male bonding that echoes ancient epics of heroism. This script holds a mythic structure for making sense of friendship in everyday life and places male relatedness under the spectral ideal of death. Whereas various male-to-male arenas present diverse and often displaced expressions of male affection, we contend that sites of commemoration present a unique instance in which desire between men is publicly declared and legitimized. The collective rituals for the dead hero-friends serve as a mask that transforms a repudiated personal sentiment into a national genre of relatedness. We interpret fraternal friendship as a form of private/public identification/desire whereby the citizen brother becomes, via collective rituals of commemoration, the desired brother.

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Robin Whitaker

Many feminists have been troubled by questions of friendship in ethnographic research. For some critics, such assertions elide power imbalances, invoking a 'sisterly identification' built on essentialist models of gender. In this article I combine insights gained from partisan ethnography in the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition with feminist theory to argue that the problem lies not with claims to friendship as such, but with a naturalized model in which friendship is treated as a power-free zone. A more politicized approach to friendship offers analytical tools for thinking about methodological, epistemological, political and applied problems in feminist anthropology and politics and to wider questions about the relationship between intellectual and political life, critique and solidarity.

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For the Sake of the Friendship

Relationality and Relationship as Grounds of Beneficence

Thaddeus Metz

I contend that there are important moral reasons for individuals, organisations and states to aid others that have gone largely unrecognised in the literature. Most of the acknowledged reasons for acting beneficently in the absence of a promise to do so are either impartial and intrinsic, on the one hand, being grounded in properties internal to and universal among individuals, such as their pleasure or autonomy, or partial and extrinsic, on the other, being grounded in non-universal properties regarding an actual relation to the agent, such as common membership in a family or culture. In contrast, I articulate and defend the existence of two unrecognised reasons for beneficence that can take the form of being impartial and extrinsic. One is that a being's capacity to be part of a sharing relationship with us can provide some reason to help it, and another is that a sharing relationship qua relationship is an end-in-itself that can provide some reason to help another. I differentiate these considerations from one another and from the more standard reasons for beneficence, provide arguments for thinking that they are central to beneficence, and rebut objections that are likely to be offered by friends of the more standard reasons.

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A Transatlantic Friendship

The Close Relationship between the Historians Georges Lefebvre and Robert R. Palmer

James Friguglietti

For some twenty years the historians Georges Lefebvre and Robert R. Palmer maintained a "transatlantic friendship." Beginning with his translation of Lefebvre's Coming of the French Revolution, Palmer became a close friend of his French colleague, providing him with much-needed food, books, and information. In return Lefebvre published articles written by his American friend in his journal Annales historiques de la Révolution française as well as offered advice about his research. Thanks to their intellectual cooperation, the two advanced the study of the Revolution in their respective countries. Despite the considerable differences between their political outlooks—Lefebvre was a committed Marxist and Palmer was a liberal Democrat—the two men remained close friends until Lefebvre's death in 1959. Much of this article is based on the recently published correspondence of Lefebvre with Palmer.

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Jules Vallès and Séverine

Romantic Socialism and the Afterlife of a Cross-Sex Friendship in French Political Culture, 1880–1929

Michael Mulvey

French political culture had a postrevolutionary tradition that considered gendered Ciceronian or fraternal friendship crucial to maintaining ideological movements across time inside the nation. The brief cross-sex friendship between Jules Vallès (1832–1885) and Séverine (neé Caroline Rémy, 1855–1929) has served as a biographical footnote to an 1871 Communard and a Dreyfusard journalist. This article frames the Vallès-Séverine social relation as a fraternal friendship that ideally secured Vallès’s political posterity and strategically empowered Séverine to publish opinions as a woman. Vallès self-consciously transferred his legacy of barricade-driven, romantic socialism to Séverine. Séverine, in turn, attempted to invoke Vallès’s heritage in an effort to protect her published opinions as a woman without civic rights. The Vallès-Séverine friendship was a paradoxical social relation that revealed how two historical actors subverted gender norms and the limits of a cross-sex fraternal friendship inside a liberalizing French political culture.

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Niobe Way

Our longitudinal studies of boys over the past two decades have revealed that boys have and/or want intimate male friendships and that these relationships are critical for their mental health. Yet as they reach late adolescence, boys become wary of their male best friends even as they continue to want emotional intimacy with these peers. As the pressures of stereotypic manhood intensify, boys disconnect from the very relationships that support their mental health. The numerous challenges faced by boys in school and at home are in part a reflection of this disconnection.

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‘Loving and Cruel, All at the Same Time’

Girlhood Identity in The Craft

Emily Chandler

The teen horror film The Craft (1996) has remained a cult classic with girl audiences for two decades. Scholarship about the film has focused on its negative representation of girls’ friendships, sexuality, and desire for power. In this article, I honor the significance of girl culture by accounting for The Craft’s appeal to girl audiences. I argue that The Craft’s relevance to girls arises from its subversion of teen film tropes. The Craft explores adolescent girls’ fear of isolation by depicting a mentally ill teenager who draws strength and happiness from the company of her friends, and becomes depressed when they oust her. By flouting the imperative for adolescent girl protagonists to be white, middle-class, mentally healthy, and normatively bodied, The Craft portrays girls’ desire for understanding over the pursuit of so-called popularity, girls’ anger arising from marginalization, and girls’ exploiting of friendship as a weapon.

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Denise Carter

With the continuing movement of social life into new types of places such as cyberspace the function and meaning of gift-exchange has emerged as being an important anthropological tool for the investigation of social relations online. In cyberspace several fascinating questions come into light, for example: what kinds of gifts are exchanged in cyberspace; how are these gifts exchanged there and what does the exchange of gifts in cyberspace signify? An analysis of the 'gift of time' is particularly pertinent when investigating friendship in virtual communities because gift exchange in cyberspace can be related to notions of reciprocity and trust. For example, my own ethnographic research in Cybertown, a virtual community on the Internet, suggests that one important concept for friendship in Cybertown is the exchange of the 'gift of time', and highlights its role in the creation of trust and reciprocity. In explaining this phenomenon, this paper examines the function and meaning of gift exchange in Cybertown in relation to contemporary theoretical notions of the gift, explains what kinds of obligations gifts engender and what role gift practices play in creating networks of friendship.

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Cynthia Maurer

Tween girls spend a significant amount of time with peers both in and out of school. Little research has examined and theorized tween friendship culture, particularly as it relates to tween media culture. Drawing on qualitative data gathered on four tween girls, three of whom I discuss in this article, I explore the role of media in friendship negotiations occurring within the home. I argue that a televisual lexicon helps girls negotiate friendship in informal settings, participating in what I term friendship work to establish their own status within the group through intimate conversations about television. As a framework, friendship work situates tweens’ engagement with media as a social tool.

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Les Signes du Politique

Language and Sociability in France from the Fourteenth to the Nineteenth Century

Jacques Guilhaumou

This article describes the social and linguistic processes underlying the formation of political language in France from the end of the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century. The author emphasizes the close relationship between the evolution of political language, as it can be traced through the many editions of dictionnaires and grammaires, and novel forms of sociability, from the medieval notion of friendship to revolutionary civism. The eighteenth century is considered a crucial moment in this process, given that during that period the thinkers of the Lumières, in their effort to harness civil society through language, forged the notion of a space of universal communication among men as a precondition for the invention of a political language specific to contemporary democracy.