HAU

The paradox of friendship

Julian Pitt-Rivers

Abstract


This paper argues that the opposition between kin and friend is analytically misleading. Analogously, the notion of “fictive kinship” is unsuitable to describe forms of relatedness such as blood brotherhood, god parenthood, or “friendship” itself. Each of these social forms generates contradictions that ideas of kinship cannot fully resolve, and these problems would seem to be part of friendship’s subject matter. The paradox of friendship, with its offers of help and implicit demands for a reciprocal counter-gesture, is more usefully compared to the paradox of the Maussian gift, with its studied spontaneity and dire consequences of refusal.


Keywords


kinship, friendship, fictive kinship, free gift, reciprocity

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14318/hau6.3.032