Friendship's freedom and gendered limits

Harry Blatterer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


This article elaborates the interactional freedom of friendship and its limits. It shows that friendship is marked by a normative freedom that makes it relatively resistant to reification, especially when compared to erotic love. It argues further, however, that due to friendship's embeddedness in the contemporary gender order, this freedom is limited. Having first outlined the freedom hypothesis, the article goes on to argue that friendship's normative freedom is made possible by its weak 'institutional connectivity'. To clarify that point, the article illustrates friendship's resistance to the reifying tendencies of therapy culture and then draws the gendered boundary of friendship's freedom with reference to the position of heterosexual cross-sex friendship in the heteronormative social imaginary. The article concludes by way of argument for a differentiated approach to friendship and suggests that the analysis of its freedom provides significant clues concerning the work that remains to be done towards equal gender relations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-456
Number of pages22
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Theory
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


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