Best Friends and Marriage: Exchange Among Women

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University of California Press, 1989 - Social Science - 231 pages
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In this fascinating book, Stacey Oliker delves into the intimate realm of women's friendships and explores the complex relation between friendship and family life. Based on a series of interviews with women from the middle and working classes, this work reveals the distinctive values of best friendship and marriage, how husbands and their wives' friends feel about each other, and how women friends talk about marriage problems.
Best Friends and Marriage suggests that close friendships provide women with unique sources of intimacy, affection, identity, and community. Contradicting a widespread view of families as isolated and self-contained private worlds, Oliker suggests that "companionate marriage" did not replace the friendship and intimacy that pervaded communities of past times, but rather, that intimate friendship and companionate marriage evolved intertwined. Examining the cultures and dynamics of friendship, Oliker shows how women's position in society constrains the choices they make at home and in friendship, and shapes how best friends perceive each other's best interests.
Best Friends and Marriage breaks ground in linking together the institutions of family and friendship, and in explaining intimacy in sociological and historical as well as psychological terms. In this way, a richly descriptive book also extends theory in the areas of family, community, and gender inequality. In this fascinating book, Stacey Oliker delves into the intimate realm of women's friendships and explores the complex relation between friendship and family life. Based on a series of interviews with women from the middle and working classes, this work reveals the distinctive values of best friendship and marriage, how husbands and their wives' friends feel about each other, and how women friends talk about marriage problems.
Best Friends and Marriage suggests that close friendships provide women with unique sources of intimacy, affection, identity, and community. Contradicting a widespread view of families as isolated and self-contained private worlds, Oliker suggests that "companionate marriage" did not replace the friendship and intimacy that pervaded communities of past times, but rather, that intimate friendship and companionate marriage evolved intertwined. Examining the cultures and dynamics of friendship, Oliker shows how women's position in society constrains the choices they make at home and in friendship, and shapes how best friends perceive each other's best interests.
Best Friends and Marriage breaks ground in linking together the institutions of family and friendship, and in explaining intimacy in sociological and historical as well as psychological terms. In this way, a richly descriptive book also extends theory in the areas of family, community, and gender inequality.
 

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About the author (1989)

Stacey J. Oliker is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee.

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