International Politics

, Volume 48, Issue 1, pp 10–27

Friendship and the world of states

  • Graham M Smith
Original Article

DOI: 10.1057/ip.2010.35

Cite this article as:
Smith, G. Int Polit (2011) 48: 10. doi:10.1057/ip.2010.35


What contribution can a theorization of friendship offer to the understanding of the world of states? It is argued here that the contemporary view of friendship eclipses a longer and broader appreciation. As such, the view of friendship that identifies it as affective, private and particular (here termed the contemporary-affective view) is one instance of a much wider cluster of ideas sharing overlapping characteristics. So conceptualized, ‘friendship’ is the concern with what binds person-to-person. It is a concern with the nature and fabric of the political. Seen from this vantage point, friendship highlights what an analysis through the state tends to overshadow: the enduring affinities, identifications and bonds that permeate the dynamics of the world of states. Thus, friendship need not remain the preserve of the premodern (Aristotle), nor be usurped as an adjunct to sovereignty and power (Schmitt), but investigated as an ongoing site of analysis for phenomena within, between and beyond states.



Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Graham M Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion, Lancaster UniversityLancasterUK