The Company She Keeps: An Ethnography of Girls' Friendships

The Company She Keeps: An Ethnography of Girls' Friendships

The Company She Keeps: An Ethnography of Girls' Friendships

The Company She Keeps: An Ethnography of Girls' Friendships

Synopsis

This lively and revealing study explores a sociologically invisible but important social relationship: girls' friendships. It uncovers often suppressed school-girl cultures, at times representing in their most condensed and dramatic form issues of intimacy, secrecy and struggle. Most women have memories of, and most mothers of young daughters become re-immersed in, these all-consuming but little understood passions. This taken-for-granted 'ordinary' relationship is examined using girls' notes, talk, diaries and interviews gathered by observing girls groups within city schools.

An important and previously ignored question is addressed by examining how girls' intimacy is structured through class, gender, sexuality and race, especially its paradoxical role in maintaining and challenging 'compulsory heterosexuality'. In this way, a series of case studies analyses how girls variously come to understand and construct "difference". In addition, this detailed analysis of girls' friendship contributes to our understanding of how girls simultaneously survive their schools, their families, their relations and subordination to boys and men.

Valerie Hey returns the reader to the terrain of loss and recollection, of girls' pleasure and pain in their friendship, and asserts the claims of the social through identifying how this is written into the cultural forms of girls' relationships with each other. Students of women's studies, education, sociology and social psychology will find this book to be an invaluable exploration of how every-day 'obvious' experience is played out as forms of subjectivity and power.
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