Work Friends: ‘Real Life’ Relationships

  • Jennifer WilkinsonEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Family and Intimate Life book series (PSFL)


Classical sociological theory has blinded us to how friendships are formed and developed at work. Theories represent work as an organizational setting which is public and impersonal. Keeping work separate from ‘real life’ friends is a familiar theme in the social sciences. In 1964, Peter Berger argued that people ‘do not live where they work’ and that the things that mattered and made our lives meaningful, like intimacy, identity and personal life, belonged to a separate private part of our world. For some, making friends at work can be difficult, suggesting that sometimes a traditional work culture persists. Classical philosophers describe work friendships as false friends, while sociologists have defined work friends as context-specific. Nevertheless context-specific friends remain capable of achieving intimacy.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of SydneySydneyAustralia

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