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Soc. Sci. 2015, 4(1), 171-191; doi:10.3390/socsci4010171

What Is a Friend? An Exploratory Typology of the Meanings of Friendship

1
Research Centre for Communication and Culture, Catholic University of Portugal, Palma de Cima, Lisbon 1649-023, Portugal
2
Morgan Centre for Research into Everyday Lives, University of Manchester, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL, UK 
Academic Editor: Martin J. Bull
Received: 5 November 2014 / Accepted: 2 February 2015 / Published: 10 February 2015
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [476 KB, uploaded 11 February 2015]   |  

Abstract

In this article I explore the contemporary normative meanings of friendship, unpacking the subject through two different questions: “what is a good friend?” and “what is an intimate friend?” Drawing on survey data from a national representative sample (n = 1142), the topic is explored in the context of a southern European country (Portugal) that represents an interesting case study, for its characteristics of late, though abrupt, entrance into late modernity. Statistical analysis of the results enabled the construction of an exploratory typology of representations of friendship, according to the meanings ascribed to friends: family-oriented; trust-oriented; self-oriented; and presence-oriented. Results inspire a two-folded interpretation. On the one hand, they point to a pervasiveness of hegemonic representations such as friendship as trust and self-disclosure, namely among the younger and more educated. On the other hand, they highlight the pervasiveness of kinship ties in the definition of friendship, namely among the elderly and less educated. This suggests that patterns of suffusion may not only refer to more individualized and plural arrangements of personal life, but also to the persistence of more traditional representations and practices, characterized by an ideological commitment to the family in its more institutional forms. View Full-Text
Keywords: friendship; meanings of friendship; friendship expectations; intimacy; friendship typology; individualization; interpersonal trust friendship; meanings of friendship; friendship expectations; intimacy; friendship typology; individualization; interpersonal trust
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Policarpo, V. What Is a Friend? An Exploratory Typology of the Meanings of Friendship. Soc. Sci. 2015, 4, 171-191.

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