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Best mates: an exploration of male adolescent friendships in contemporary young adult fictions

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In this paper I explore the ways in which a number of contemporary authors represent friendships between adolescent boys in their fictional narratives. I consider how they negotiate current debates around boys' socialisation which suggest that normative masculinity discourses, which privilege competition, independence and success, potentially conflict with understandings of friendship as intimate and disclosing. I go on to examine the ways in which authors present the peer group, the wider network of relationships that exist outside individual friendships, as this group potentially influences the social landscape of boys through its ability to police masculinity performances as well as acting as a support network. In considering the fictional friendships that the narratives reveal, I reflect on the nature of masculinities in terms of their stability and re-enforcement, and suggest that ultimately the texts represent a body of work that offers flexible versions of male friendships for, although dominant versions of masculinity impact on the friendships represented in the narratives, they do not eliminate the possibility for individual accounts of friendship that are both intimate and supportive.
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Keywords: boyhood; ethnicities; friendship; masculinities

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Publication date: 2008-04-01

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