Where to learn about the social science of friendship?
April 17, 2012 5:23 PM   Subscribe

Where should I start if I'd like to learn about the social science of friendship?

Both as a social science geek and as a software developer, I've been getting interested in the study of friendship. I'd like to learn about the properties of social graphs of friendships; the conditions that influence two people to become friends; the way people reason when choosing friends; all of it. Economics, sociology, cognitive psych, maybe even some analytic philosophy. What are some good readers or introductions I could use to get myself acquainted with the field, authors I should keep track of, etc.? Whatever you've got.

Thanks in advance. You're awesome.
posted by abcde to Science & Nature (5 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I should add that I'm also open to mainstream nonfiction and other stuff that isn't heavily research based, if the analysis is good.
posted by abcde at 5:37 PM on April 17, 2012

Are you interested in group interaction at all? Or, more of interpersonal relations?

I have several readings about group interactions and friendships in groups. They answer some of the questions that you are looking for. Just send me a memail if you want me to send the readings to you.

As for interpersonal relations, I'd recommend the book "Interplay."
posted by livinglearning at 5:45 PM on April 17, 2012

Some old keywords that will get you some hits out of Google Scholar include the notion of kinship as the 'axiom of amity' (i.e. in small-scale/traditional societies, prescribed altruism based on kinship categories or sometimes fictive kinship represents a sort of originary basis for friendship) and the idea that voluntary associations and 'dyadic contracts' become increasingly important in complex societies (i.e. societies that have more social roles--more kinds of occupations, etc.).
posted by Monsieur Caution at 5:55 PM on April 17, 2012

livinglearning: for sure, send them along. I'm definitely interested in both.
posted by abcde at 6:09 PM on April 17, 2012

Robin Dunbar has a few works that touch on this, including How Many Friends Does One Person Need? (He has an answer.) There's also Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives by Christakis & Fowler.
posted by knile at 5:27 AM on April 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

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