"Other Guys Don't Hang Out Like This": Gendered Friendship Politics Among Swedish, Middle-Class Men

  • Datum:
  • Plats: Humanistiska teatern, Engelska parken, Thunbersgvägen 3H, Uppsala
  • Doktorand: Goedecke, Klara
  • Om avhandlingen
  • Arrangör: Centrum för genusvetenskap
  • Kontaktperson: Goedecke, Klara
  • Disputation

The overarching aim of this thesis is to deepen the understanding of men’s friendships, in relation to gender, sexuality, power, masculine positions, feminisms and gender equality.

The thesis draws upon in-depth interviews conducted individually and with pairs of men, between 25 and 49 years old, predominantly well-educated, white, straight and working white-collar or cultural jobs, twenty in total. Through analysis from feminist perspectives, the thesis approaches men’s friendships as ambivalent, as both holding radical promises and potentially reproducing and normalising existing discourses, gender figurations and power relations.

In the thesis, friendship is discussed in relation to research about queer temporalities, showing that friendship is expected to be deprioritised in relation to familial and romantic relationships, associated with constructions of “adult life”. Research about therapeutic discourses and disclosure dominating contemporary views of intimacy are used to analyse the role of conversations. Conversations are central to the stories about friendship and closely associated to authenticity and courage to be open about feelings, and are also relevant to how the interviewees talk about themselves as gendered. It is shown that friendship is connected to gender politics and to the production of masculine positions, where allegedly stoic, competitive and homophobic friendships between “laddish” men function as contrast to the interviewees’ friendships. It is also shown how the interview is an important arena for performing masculine positions as well as certain kinds of friendships. In-depth scrutinising of the interview situation shows complex negotiations about what the interview is and should be, as well as gendered emotion work between interviewer and interviewee(s).

Using feminist and poststructuralist approaches, which have thus far been uncommon in studies of friendship, the thesis shows how meaning-makings around friendships are interrelated with the production of masculine positions, discourses around sexuality and class, as well as Swedish ideologies of gender equality. Friendships are explicitly politicised and seen as a tool of social change, negotiations which form a gendered friendship politics. The gendered friendship politics contribute to reproducing, normalising and disrupting gender relations and expectations on men. This complicates and deepens discussions about men’s friendships and men’s relationships to processes of social change.