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Friendship as a Family of Practices

P. E. Digeser

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Digeser, P.E. (2013) Friendship as a Family of Practices. AMITY: The Journal of Friendship Studies, 1:1, pp. 34-52. doi: 10.5518/AMITY/3


How should we understand friendship given the extraordinary diverse forms that it can take? Building on the idea that friendship is a family resemblance concept, this article argues that friendship can be understood as a set of social practices in which certain norms and expectations govern not only the actions, but also the motivations of the friends. As a family resemblance concept, no essential action or motivation differentiates friendship from other social practices or unites the different practices of friendship. Nevertheless, a repertoire of motives exists, at least one of which must be mutually recognised in order for friendship to get off the ground. In addition, the conventions governing the interactions of friends may be less about what to do at any particular time and more about how to go about doing whatever it is that friends wish to do for or with one another. The practices of friendship are diverse, historically contingent and adverbial in character. This understanding of friendship will be broad enough to encompass the wide variety of friendships. Friendship is a flexible relationship whose boundaries are ultimately established only by the human imagination.

Keywords: friendship, Oakeshott, practice, family resemblance, Telfer

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