With a Little Help From My Friends. Gender and Intimacy in Two Friendship Research Projects

Linn Alenius Wallin, Klara Goedecke


Friendship is an undertheorized but increasingly important relationship in late modernity. In this article, the authors present findings from two ongoing research projects about friendship, gender and age in contemporary Sweden. They argue that discourses about gender and friendship are highly relevant for how friendship is conceptualized both among men and women, but that culturally ingrained conceptions of men’s inability and women’s capacity to be close friends ought to be problematized further, from feminist perspectives. Furthermore, they discuss friendship practices, problematizing the frequent equation of friendship and intimate dialogues, which are important but may overshadow other friendship practices, like various kinds of support. The authors show that such support is negotiated in relation to ideas of ideal friendship, permeated by reciprocity and equality, and call for further feminist research about friendship, arguing that a feminist perspective can destabilize gendered dichotomies and contribute to problematizing power relations, vulnerabilities and exclusions in friendships.

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