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Friendship, bitching, and the making of ethical selves: what it means to be a good friend among girls in a London school

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Sarah Winkler-Reid



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Wiley, 2016.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


This article explores the relationship between friendship, personhood and ethics among girls in a London school. While a Western ideal of friendship is posited as a personal, private and spontaneous relationship between autonomous individuals, I argue girls’ friendships are a complex entanglement and interaction between forensic and mimetic dimensions of the self. Girls’ ideals of friendship, and practices of making friends, suggest forensic pre-constituted selves acting with volition in order to become closer to other selves. However, bitching, exclusion and breaking friendships foreground mimetic dimensions as girls shape each other and themselves according to gendered ethical criteria. Examining these analytical strands offers insight into how individuality is produced through sociality in everyday life.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Winkler-Reid S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute

Year: 2016

Volume: 22

Issue: 1

Pages: 166-182

Print publication date: 01/03/2016

Online publication date: 29/12/2015

Acceptance date: 30/03/2015

Date deposited: 05/11/2015

ISSN (print): 1359-0987

ISSN (electronic): 1467-9655

Publisher: Wiley


DOI: 10.1111/1467-9655.12339


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