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How We Know Each Other: Exploring the Bonds of Friendship Using Friendship Ethnography and Visual Ethnography

Stevenson, AD and Lawthom, Rebecca (2017) How We Know Each Other: Exploring the Bonds of Friendship Using Friendship Ethnography and Visual Ethnography. Anthrovision, 5.1. ISSN 2198-6754

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Abstract

This paper presents that argument that by combining the methods of friendship ethnography and visual ethnography, friendship itself reveals itself to be a practice-based, suffuse, routinized and emplaced phenomenon. We have used film and interviews to explore the practices that cement friendship bonds among four friendship pairs. In exploring practices and spaces that bind friendship pairs, research was undertaken with participants with whom the primary researcher and filmmaker is already acquainted to varying degrees of intimacy. Situating the research among friends, treating participants according to the ethics of friendship, draws us closer to an understanding of the nature of their bonds. The use of documentary film as a sensory practice that documents practice more vividly than verbal accounts alone can, used alongside friendship ethnography, draws the research closer to the non-verbal aspects of friendships that epitomize intimacy. Our close encounters with these pairs, enhanced by the medium of film, enable us to argue that friendship itself is a practice which is founded on something done (practice-based), embedded in wider social networks (suffuse), enhanced by regular contact (routinized) and contextualized in space (emplaced).

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