Political Friendship and the Social Bond

  • Peter Mallory


Recently, scholars have revived the Aristotelian notion of civic or political friendship and recast it to address the problem of solidarity between strangers. Nonetheless, the transposition of friendship to the public sphere remains awkward, since it is still conceived as a pre-eminently private and personal bond. This chapter builds on Adam Smith’s rich account of public friendship, one that does not associate friendship solely with the private realm. However, Smith’s approach has limitations because his intensely sociocentric perspective naturalizes and forecloses a political critique of domination. The chapter argues that a strong notion of political friendship, appropriate for critical sociology, must not only emphasize the overcoming of indifference and its replacement by sympathy, but must also reveal and contest the social basis of domination.



I would like to thank Jesse Carlson, Laura Eramian, Mervyn Horgan, Fuyuki Kurasawa, and the members of the Canadian Network for Critical Sociology for their comments on earlier versions of this chapter. I would also like to thank the St. Francis Xavier University Council on Research, which provided research funding.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Mallory
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologySt. Francis Xavier UniversityAntigonishCanada

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