The Open UniversitySkip to content

Boys Bonding: same-sex friendship, the unconscious and heterosexual masculinities

Redman, Peter; Epstein, Debbie; Kehily, Mary Jane and Mac an Ghaill, Mairtin (2002). Boys Bonding: same-sex friendship, the unconscious and heterosexual masculinities. Discourse, 23(2) pp. 179–191.

DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link:
Google Scholar: Look up in Google Scholar


This article aims to explore some of the ways in which the cultural meanings and practices of gender, sexuality and relationships intersect with and are reworked in the same-sex friendships of children aged nine to eleven. Using material from an ethnographic study, it focuses on two boys, Ben and Karl, who identified themselves as best friends. The article argues that, while the boys clearly knew, positioned themselves in and deployed heterosexual discourse, their relationship to this was complex. In particular, they appeared to use it to distance themselves from the feminine and to build their friendship as a pleasurable, intimate and exciting space. The article uses psychoanalytic arguments to explore this material, tentatively suggesting that the boys' access to the cultural practice of 'best friendship' mobilised identifications that both reinforced conventional versions of heterosexual masculinity and questioned these. In particular, the article suggests that the boys' friendship may have involved 'over-inclusive' gender identifications - ones that indicate the existence of boyhood masculinities that are more capacious and flexible than those hegemonic in teenage and adolescent cultures.

Item Type: Journal Article
ISSN: 0159-6306
Academic Unit/Department: Social Sciences > Sociology
Social Sciences
Education and Language Studies
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Centre for Research in Education and Educational Technology (CREET)
Item ID: 661
Depositing User: Users 12 not found.
Date Deposited: 16 May 2006
Last Modified: 03 Mar 2016 13:19
Share this page:


Scopus Citations

► Automated document suggestions from open access sources

Actions (login may be required)

Policies | Disclaimer

© The Open University   + 44 (0)870 333 4340