Men's Friendships


Edited by: Peter M. Nardi

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  • Research on Men and Masculinities Series

    Series Editor:

    MichaelS.Kimmel, Suny Stony Brook

    Contemporary research on men and masculinity, informed by recent feminist thought and intellectual breakthroughs of women's studies and the women's movement, treats masculinity not as a normative referent but as a problematic gender construct. This series of interdisciplinary, edited volumes attempts to understand men and masculinity through this lens, providing a comprehensive understanding of gender and gender relationships in the contemporary world.

    Editorial Advisory Board

    Maxine Baca Zinn

    Robert Brannon

    Cynthia Cockburn

    Jeff Hearn

    Martin P. Levine

    William Marsiglio

    David Morgan

    Joseph H. Pleck

    Robert Staples

    Bob Blauner

    Harry Brod

    R. W. Connell

    Clyde Franklin II

    Gregory Herek

    Robert A. Lewis

    Michael A. Messner

    Virginia E. O'Leary

    Victor Seidler

    Volumes in this Series
    • Steve Craig (ed.)


    • Peter M. Nardi (ed.)


    Other series volumes in preparation


    View Copyright Page


    This volume is the second volume in the Sage Series on Research on Men and Masculinity. The purpose of the series is to gather together the finest empirical research in the social sciences that focuses on the experiences of men in contemporary society.

    Following the pioneering research of feminist scholars over the past two decades, social scientists have come to recognize gender as one of the primary axes around which social life is organized. Gender is now seen as equally central as class and race, both at the macro, structural level of the allocation and distribution of rewards in a hierarchical society, and at the micro, psychological level of individual identity formation and interpersonal interaction.

    Social scientists distinguish gender from sex. Sex refers to biology, the biological dimorphic division of male and female; gender refers to the cultural meanings that are attributed to those biological differences. While biological sex varies little, the cultural meanings of gender vary enormously. Thus we speak of gender as socially constructed, the definitions of masculinity and femininity as the products of the interplay among a variety of social forces. In particular, we understand gender to vary spatially (from one culture to another); temporally (within any one culture over historical time); and longitudinally (through any individual's life course). Finally, we understand that different groups within any culture may define masculinity and femininity differently, according to subcultural definitions; race, ethnicity, age, class, sexuality, and region of the country all affect our different gender definitions. Thus it is more accurate to speak of “masculinities” and “femininities” than to posit a monolithic gender construct. It is the goal of this series to explore the varieties of men's experiences, remaining mindful of specific differences among men, and also aware of the mechanisms of power that inform both men's relations with women and men's relations with other men.

    Men's friendships are a recurrent theme in discussions of men's lives. How are men's friendships different from women's friendships? What are the obstacles to intimacy between men? What are the key features of men's friendships? How do men's friendships vary among different groups of men? Why does friendship seem so difficult for men to sustain?

    These are the questions that inform Peter Nardi's collection, Men's Friendships. The authors in the collection use a variety of methods—historical inquiry, psychoanalysis, network analysis, feminist theory—to explore the dynamics and meanings of friendship in men's lives. Several authors detail the ways in which different groups of men, such as black men, gay men, and athletes, manifest different patterns of friendships, and how some of these might be useful to other men in expanding their own friendships.

    Several of these articles also shed some light on the recent popular interest in “male bonding,” a more temporally limited experience of male-male intimacy in the context of retrieving a mythic “deep” masculinity. In this regard, Spain's article serves as a valuable cautionary tale. In her survey of the anthropological literature, she finds that those cultures in which male bonding rituals are most evident and ritually important are also the cultures in which women's status is lowest. Thus any consideration of male friendships must remain aware that such relationships take place not in the seemingly neutral zone of homosocial intimacy, but are simultaneously played out against a broader canvas of male-female relationships. Even in our most emotionally vulnerable revelations, our experiences with other men are still structured by power and privilege.

    MichaelS.Kimmel Series Editor
  • About the Contributors

    Theodore F. Cohen is an Associate Professor in the Sociology-Anthropology Department at Ohio Wesleyan University where he teaches a variety of courses, including The Family, Gender in American Society, and Masculinity and Men's Roles. He has authored papers on the impact of marriage and fatherhood on men and on men's attachments to work and family. He is starting a new interview project comparing the work and family lives of women and men in three different occupations. He received his Ph.D. in sociology from Boston University in 1986.

    Gary Alan Fine is Professor of Sociology and head of the department at the University of Georgia. He received his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Harvard University in 1976. He has taught at Boston College, Indiana University, University of Chicago, University of Bremen, and the University of Minnesota. Professor Fine's research focuses on the sociology of culture, particularly as culture is expressed through interaction and social structure. He is the author of With the Boys: Little League Baseball and Preadolescent Culture; Shared Fantasy: Role Playing Games and Social Worlds; and Talking Sociology (second edition). He is currently working on research on the organizational structure of the restaurant industry, the relationship of human beings to their natural environment, and the technique that adolescents use to persuade others.

    Clyde W. Franklin II is Professor of Sociology at The Ohio State University in Columbus. He specializes in Social Psychology and Gender and has published numerous articles in social psychology, racial and ethnic relations, and gender. His more recent work has centered on issues related to black male sex roles and black female-black male relationships. He has published Minority Group Relations (with James G. Martin); Theoretical Perspectives in Social Psychology: The Changing Definition of Masculinity; and Men and Society. He serves on several academic editorial boards and is the editor for the Journal of African American Male Studies.

    Karen V. Hansen teaches sociology and feminist theory at Brandeis University. As a Mellon Faculty Fellow and a Bunting Institute Fellow at Harvard/Radcliffe, she is writing a manuscript investigating community life of working men and women in antebellum New England. She edited, with Ilene Philipson, Women, Class, and the Feminist Imagination.

    Michael A. Messner is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and the Program for the Study of Women and Men in Society at the University of Southern California. He has published numerous articles on men and masculinity and on gender and sport. His current research interests include men and feminist politics and gender in sports media. He has co-edited two books, Men's Lives (with Michael S. Kimmel); and Sport, Men, and the Gender Order: Critical Feminist Perspectives (with Donald F. Sabo). His book, Power at Play: Sports and the Problem of Masculinity, is forthcoming from Beacon Press in 1992.

    Peter M. Nardi is Professor of Sociology at Pitzer College, one of the Claremont Colleges located near Los Angeles. He completed his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania and his undergraduate degree at the University of Notre Dame. He has published articles on men's friendships, AIDS, anti-gay hate crimes and violence, magic and magicians, and alcoholism and families. He has recently served as co-president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

    Helen M. Reid is a doctoral candidate at Columbia University. Her primary areas of interest are inequality and heterogeneity in social structures at the macro, micro, and network levels of analysis. Her other research interests include the study of educational interventions in high school populations and the study of HIV and suicide prevention in adolescent populations.

    Victor J. Seidler is a Senior Lecturer in Social Theory and Philosophy in the Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths' College, University of London. He is the author of Rediscovering Masculinity: Reason, Language, and Sexuality; Recreating Sexual Politics: Men, Feminism, & Politics; and editor of The Achilles Heel Reader: Men, Sexual Politics, and Socialism. His most recent work is The Moral Limits of Modernity: Love, Inequality, & Oppression. He is the editor of Routledge's Male Orders series, exploring how dominant forms of masculinity have helped shape prevailing forms of knowledge, culture, and experience.

    Daphne Spain is an Associate Professor of Urban and Environmental Planning and Associate Dean of the School of Architecture at the University of Virginia. Her most recent book, Gendered Spaces, examines the relationship between gender segregation and women's status. She is also pursuing earlier interests in gentrification by examining parallels between urban and rural communities undergoing rapid change.

    Scott O. Swain counsels and teaches at Las Lomas High School in the San Francisco Bay Area, following a year of postdoctoral training at the Wellesley College Center for Research on Women. After completing his undergraduate work in social science at the University of California, Berkeley, he counseled and taught high school students on the Hoopa Indian Reservation in Northern California. He returned to graduate school at the University of California, Irvine, and completed doctoral research on intimacy in men's same-sex friendships. His current research interests include the impact of the masculine role on homeless men and cyclical changes in gender role ideation.

    Barry Wellman, raised in the Bronx, learned to appreciate public communities in schoolyards and on street corners as a member of the Fordham Flames. He developed social network approaches to the study of community in the 1960s at the Harvard Department of Social Relations. Building upon this interest, he founded the International Network for Social Network Analysis in 1976 and headed it for more than a decade. He co- edited Social Structures: A Network Approach (1988). For the past 20 years he has been studying the community that does exist in cities. He is currently Professor of Sociology at the Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto.

    Walter L. Williams is Associate Professor of Anthropology and the Study of Women and Men in Society at the University of Southern California. He received his Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina and has taught at the University of Cincinnati and at UCLA. His books include Black Americans and the Evangelization of Africa; Southwestern Indians Since the Removal Era; Indian Leadership; and his study of the berdache, The Spirit and the Flesh: Sexual Diversity in American Indian culture. In 1987–1988, he was a Fulbright Professor of American Studies at Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia. His most recent book is Javanese Lives: Women and Men in Modern Indonesian Society.

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