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On Friendship, Equality and Introductions: Comparing English and German Regimes of Manners and Emotions


  • Cas Wouters


This paper explores friendship by analysing some of the characteristic differences in manners between the Germans and the English, from the end of the nineteenth century until the 1970s. During that time rules for introductions were a major if not the most prominent topic in English manners books, whereas these rules attracted hardly any attention in the German ones. In an opposite way, the same goes for friendship: the topic was almost absent in English manners books while it was a central theme in German ones, together with topics such as duzen – addressing each other with the informal you: Du. Establishing a 'friendship' as well as 'being properly introduced' are both ritual transitions from a rather distant and hierarchical relationship in the direction of greater 'equality' and intimacy. These different forms are explained by placing them in the context of their national class structures and by connecting them to differences in the processes of social emancipation and national integration.

Suggested Citation

  • Cas Wouters, 2011. "On Friendship, Equality and Introductions: Comparing English and German Regimes of Manners and Emotions," Sociological Research Online, Sociological Research Online, vol. 16(1), pages 1-2.
  • Handle: RePEc:sro:srosro:2010-61-2

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