Friendship according to Belot and Ermisch (2009) entail satisfaction through enjoyment generated from friendship ties. It is also reciprocal in nature and characterized by equality among the concerned individuals. Though at times members of different social and economic classes form friendships, Pahl (2000) believes that friendships develop between people of same social and economic class. Many theorists argue that friendships are individual since it’s the individual who chooses who to be friends with and the activities to engage in with the friend (Dannefer &Phillipson, 2010). However, others are of the view that friendship is socially constructed since it is influenced by factors in the environment such as the family ties, place of employment and social class (Allan, 2001). Besides the emotions that form the bonds between friends are socially constructed (Holmes & Greco, 2011). The big question that this paper will try to answer is “are friendships individual or are they socially constructed?” To answer this question, we will look at the relation between friendships and emotion and explore friendships and geographical or educational mobility. The paper will also look at how friendships evolve over time as individual and contextual contexts change. Social Construction of Friendships The view taken by this essay is that friendships are socially constructed. It is true that friendships are in a sense individual in nature but they cannot occur in a vacuum. Instead, they are constructed and shaped by the society or the environment surrounding the individual. Though an individual has the freedom to choose a friend, other factors come into play such as the social class and mobility or what Dannefer and Phillipson (2010) call personal environment. This comprises of economic circumstances, domestic responsibilities, work commitments, leisure preferences (p. 242). Consider a person living in deplorable conditions or in a slum. Would such a person choose a friend from a high social class? Definitely not. First, the chances of socializing with such a person are minimal since they attend different schools and live in different surroundings and have different experiences in life. Their leisure activities would also vary to a certain degree due to economic status. Social factors thus determine the type of friends people engage with. Some would argue that it is possible due to increased use of technology which enables individuals to develop friendships in social network (Brooks & Waters, 2010). That is true but these individuals rarely have a chance to access technology thus chances of communicating are minimal. Socialization therefore plays a great role in formation of friendships. Friendships are voluntary no matter the position of an individual in social structure. They are also characterised by a tie of equality thus do not have a structured hierarchy. People from different social backgrounds can be friends but this is just in theory. In reality, inequalities create tensions between friends and lead to break up (Barbalet, 2002). Friendships are also reciprocal in nature since they entail sharing and helping each other at different points in life. If a friend does not reciprocate, the other would feel used leading to break up. Another aspect of friendship is that friendship generates enjoyment due to the activities performed together (Dannefer &
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