Accepted Paper:

From fictive kin to fictive friends  

Author:

Daniel Miller (University College London (UCL))

Paper Short Abstract:

Despite developing the concept of fictive kinship, anthropology has ignored the rise of fictive friendship. This paper explores fictive friendship within three ethnographies. It then explores the impact of kin `friending’ on social media and its transformative consequences.

Paper long abstract:

The study of fictive kinship is well established in anthropology for societies where kinship dominates social relations to the extent that it becomes the primary idiom for other relationships. This paper argues, however, that we have neglected the opposite phenomenon, which is surprising, given the emphasis from Beck, Giddens and others on voluntarism in contemporary relationships. In many societies today friendship is valorised to such an extent that mothers want to be their children's best friends. The paper examines the overall trend towards fictive friendship. We then find social media platforms creating a process of `friending' which led to the iconic moment when `my mother asked to friend me.' But this turns out to be a two way process and fictive friendship applied to kinship on Facebook then led to striking changes in people's attitude to and use of Facebook. Examples of the tensions that result from fictive friendship on social media are taken from fieldwork in England, the Philippines and Trinidad and used to explore cultural diversity in fictive friendship,

Panel P059
Kinship: taking stock in the light of social media