An empirical study was conducted to investigate the practical management of interactions sustaining close friendships. Ten pairs of close friends were interviewed individually on two occasions and together on a third occasion. An interpretive analysis of subjects' remarks identified a dialectical principle governing the communicative organization of friendship. The dialectic of the freedom to be independent/freedom to be dependent conceptualizes the patterns of availability and copresence in a close friendship. Basically, while each person is free to pursue individual interests apart from the other and without the friend's interference or help, each retains the liberty to rely on the other should it be necessary. In granting each other a combination of these two freedoms, the individuals co‐create a basis for patterns of interaction in their relationship that may curtail their individual liberties. The paper closes with an overview of the choices and possible corruptions experienced by self and other due to the mutually contingent nature of these contradictory freedoms.
Human Communication Research – Oxford University Press
Published: Mar 1, 1983