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The borderology of friendship in academia

Claus Emmeche

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Emmeche, C. (2015) The borderology of friendship in academia. AMITY: The Journal of Friendship Studies, 3:1, pp. 40-59. doi: 10.5518/AMITY/16


This essay is a contribution to a borderology of friendship in academic research. Borderology is an interdisciplinary approach to the study of two or more sets of phenomena that are informationally complex, interrelating, and involving both real phenomenal and disciplinary conceptual borders. Academic research and the ties of friendship may, more often than not, be interrelated, though few scholars have studied these interconnections in any detail. There is a certain messiness to both phenomena, related to demarcation problems, e.g., how to define friendship as distinct from other interpersonal relations like acquaintanceship, collegiality, parental or romantic love, etc. Some of the sparse literature on friendship in academia is reviewed, and an interview-based study from the perspective of sociology of science is presented, aiming at elucidating the benefits and perils of close ties of friendship among researchers at universities. In a borderological attempt to make space for interdisciplinary approaches to friendship as a cluster of important interpersonal relations in human life, some remarks are finally made about friendship
as a messy category that has been partially investigated from the perspectives of different disciplines.

Keywords: borderology, work friendship, intellectual friendship, collaboration and competition, collegiality, cronyism

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