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Title: Friendship and Happiness from a Sociological Perspective
Contributor(s): Greco, Silvana (author); Holmes, Mary (author); McKenzie, Jordan (author)
Publication Date: 2015
DOI: 10.1007/978-94-017-9603-3_2
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Abstract: This chapter explores friendship and happiness from a sociological perspective. Much of the study of the links between happiness and friendship in the lives of individuals has been conducted within psychology (Demir et al. 2013), whereas we shall show how sociology has ignored friendship (if we exclude Georg Simmel) until recently and has tended to examine happiness as it relates to changing perceptions of 'the good life', to interaction with others and to patterns of power. Sociological discourse focuses on how broader social and cultural transformations influence friendship and how an analysis of friendship helps us understand those transformations. It also analyses friendship during the whole life course in order to reveal how collective interaction is changing and how it affects the private sphere. It is argued that friendship plays a crucial role in people's lives, especially during critical events such as an illness, the death of near relative or the loss of a job. In modem societies friendship differs from in the past, being a particular interpersonal relationship based on reciprocity, trust and affect, which is freely chosen by individuals according to their elective affinities. Friends represent a precious social and emotional capital, providing a network, but also offering different kinds of resources such as emotional support, information, trust, financial support, and influence. In presenting these arguments, the first section outlines how happiness is understood within sociological discourse, elaborating the different ways in which happiness has been defined throughout history and critical debates about whether a social focus on happiness contributes to individual subjective well-being or can function to regulate and constrain people within social structures. The second section continues by examining social conditions for happiness and offering a critical overview of happiness studies. The chapter then explores friendship in sociological discourse, examining debates around whether friendship fosters social cohesion or promotes social inequalities. Finally, we examine friendship and happiness in different social spheres, using examples from original research on friendships at work and on how friendships are navigated through online social media like Facebook.
Publication Type: Book Chapter
Source of Publication: Friendship and Happiness: Across the Life-Span and Cultures, p. 19-35
Publisher: Springer Netherlands
Place of Publication: Dordrecht, The Netherlands
ISBN: 9789401796033
Field of Research (FOR): 160806 Social Theory
Socio-Economic Outcome Codes: 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified
HERDC Category Description: B1 Chapter in a Scholarly Book
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