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Critical friendships

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A growing body of social-scientific work has explored friendship as a source of relational goods and as a model for democratic relating. Friendships have been seen as resources for the self, sources of emotional, social and material supports, as central to elective families and affective communities and as pure relationships. Also, an egalitarian friendship 'ethos' has been proffered as a solution to the power imbalances associated with other relational forms such as family. These are partial views of friendships. Drawing on data generated for a study of critical associations, this article explores how friendships can be experienced as good, ambivalent and disappointing. There is an assumption in some of the literature that suffused friendships are especially rewarding. However, our own data suggest that they can also be personally troubling. We conclude that idealised friendships are not the answer to the problematic realities of other relational forms.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November, 2012

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