Friendships: A Sociological Study

Decent Essays
Are friendships really about individual relations or are they more socially structurally bound? Throughout history, friendship is revered and has often been romanticised. It is a relatively new area of sociological study. Research has transferred the focus from personal interactions and the psychology of friendships to the social structures that influence and underpin them. This shift in the sociological view of friendship reflects a growing interest in mixed methodologies when carrying out research. As social structures bind a friendship in terms of manners agreed between its participants, so their rituals and routines become particular to those people in their understanding of the relationship. Understanding the effect of class and gender…show more content…
It is about the situation in which a person has repeated contact with other people in order to lead to a friendship: “you have more friends if there are more people you meet on a regular basis” (Stauder 2014). Repetition of contact with humans is more significant than the number of people met. Contact opportunities are influenced not only by social structure but a person’s opportunity for contact and association. This idea of interaction structures starts to acutely explain empirical research: “young people in higher education are likely to have friends covering a broad spread of backgrounds, working-class are likely to be limited” (Pahl 2000: 108). This is not due to personal attitude or prejudices, but the situations and opportunities in which contact with people leads to friendship. University is increasingly mixed in terms of students' class and ethnicity, whereas a local community may tend to have less variation regardless of whether it is middle- or working-class. A person needs to be willing and open to friendship, and which people one chooses to become friends with depends on who one meets, so friendship necessarily occurs within the confines of social structures. This echoes Giddens' theory of structuration, wherein “human agency and social structure are in a relationship with each other” (Gauntlett 2002). It is the application of macro and…show more content…
So the social structures, divisions and agencies which underpin society influence friendships. Analysis has identified many different types and formations of friendship of varying degrees of intimacy. Perhaps the key to understanding friendship is to understand that different friendships thrive in accordance with the different needs of each person, and that finding a person who or a friendship which meets personal expectations is where the relevance lies. A ‘symbolic interactionist’ sociological approach to future research would ascertain how that understanding between two people is reached. So, friendship exists within the social and economic context in which it was formed, and if this context alters, so does the nature of the friendship. The way in which humans manage and create friendships reacts to changes and evolves in order to sustain itself as part of the human condition. This is evidence of the value and necessity of human connection, be it friends or family, to the life experience. Studying friendship provides knowledge of social developments and changes. This is valuable in understanding human interaction and future policy within health and
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