The Bromance: Undergraduate Male Friendships and the Expansion of Contemporary Homosocial Boundaries
- 6.5k Downloads
The present study provides the first known qualitative examination of heterosexual undergraduate men’s conceptualization and experiences of the bromance, outside research on cinematic representations. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with 30 undergraduate men enrolled in one of four undergraduate sport-degree programs at one university in the United Kingdom, we find these heterosexual men to be less reliant on traditional homosocial boundaries, which have previously limited male same-sex friendships. Contrary to the repressive homosociality of the 1980s and 1990s, these men embrace a significantly more inclusive, tactile, and emotionally diverse approach to their homosocial relationships. All participants provided comparable definitions of what a bromance is and how it operates, all had at least one bromantic friend, and all suggested that bromances had more to offer than a standard friendship. Participants described a bromance as being more emotionally intimate, physically demonstrative, and based upon unrivalled trust and cohesion compared to their other friendships. Participants used their experiences with romances and familial relations as a reference point for considering the conditions of a bromance. Results support the view that declining homophobia and its internalization has had significantly positive implications for male expression and intimacy. Conclusions are made about the bromance’s potential to improve men’s mental health and social well-being because participants indicate these relationships provide a space for emotional disclosure and the discussion of potentially traumatic and sensitive issues.
KeywordsBromance Homosocial Homohysteria Masculinity Men Stoicism Suicide
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflicts of Interest
There are no conflicts of interest to report.
Research Involving Human Subjects
This research included qualitative interviews with human subjects. As highlighted in the article, “The ethical procedures of the British Sociological Association have been followed. This includes participants’ right to view transcripts, the right to withdraw from the study, making anonymous the participants’ names and the name of their university. Participants were provided with an information sheet with the investigators’ contact information, aims of the study, consent forms and indication that there was no penalty for not participating.”
Ethical approval was obtained from the University of Winchester, Research Ethics Committee.
- Anderson, E. (2005). In the game: Gay athletes and the cult of masculinity. New York: University of New York Press.Google Scholar
- Anderson, E. (2009). Inclusive masculinity: The changing nature of masculinities. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Anderson, E., & McCormack, M. (2015). Cuddling and spooning heteromasculinity and homosocial tactility among student-athletes. Men and Masculinities, 18(2), 214–230. doi: 10.1177/1097184X14523433.
- Arnett, J. (2004). A longer road to adulthood. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Askew, S., & Ross, C. (1988). Boys don't cry: Boys and sexism in education. Philadelphia: Open University Press.Google Scholar
- Baker, P., & Hotek, D. (2011). Grappling with gender: Exploring masculinity and gender in the bodies, performances, and emotions of scholastic wrestlers. Journal of Feminist Scholarship, 1, 1–15. Retrieved from http://www.jfsonline.org/issue1/pdfs/jfs_issueFINAL.pdf#page=53.
- Bogle, K. (2008). Hooking up: Sex, dating, and relationships on campus. New York: New York University Press.Google Scholar
- Branfman, J., Stiritz, S., and Anderson, E. (2017). Relaxing the straight-male anus: Decreasing homohysteria around anal eroticism. Sexualities. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/1363460716678560.
- Chen, E. J. (2011). Caught in a bad bromance. Texas Journal of Women and Law, 21(2), 241–267. Retrieved from http://heinonline.org/HOL/Page?handle=hein.journals/tjwl21anddiv=12andg_sent=1andcollection=journals.
- Collins, W., & Repinski, D. (1994). Relationships during adolescence: Continuity and change in interpersonal perspective. In R. Montemayor, G. Adams, & T. Gullotta (Eds.), Personal relationships during adolescence (pp. 7–36). Thousand Oaks: Sage.Google Scholar
- Connell, R. (1995). Masculinities. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Davies, N. (2014). I love you hombre. In M. DeAngelis (Ed.), Reading the bromance: Homosocial relationships in film and television (pp. 109–138). Detroit: Wayne State University Press.Google Scholar
- DeAngelis, M. (2014). Reading the bromance: Homosocial relationships in film and television. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.Google Scholar
- Deitcher, D. (2001). Dear friends: American photographs of men together, 1840–1918. New York: Harry N Abrams Inc..Google Scholar
- Denscombe, M. (2002). Ground rules for good research. Leicester: Open University Press.Google Scholar
- Dermott, E. (2008). Intimate fatherhood: A sociological analysis. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Emsliea, C., Ridge, D., Ziebland, S., & Hunt, K. (2007). Exploring men’s and women’s experiences of depression and engagement with health professionals: More similarities than differences? A qualitative interview study. BioMed Central Family Practice, 8(43). doi: 10.1186/1471-2296-8-43.
- Foucault, M. (1984). The Foucault reader. New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
- Freud, S. (1905). Three essays on the theory of sexuality. London: Hogarth Press.Google Scholar
- Goetz, J., & LeCompte, M. (1984). Ethnography and qualitative design in educational research. Orlando: Academic Press.Google Scholar
- Hansen-Miller, D., & Gill, R. (2011). Lad flicks: Discursive reconstructions of masculinity in popular film. In H. Radner & E. Pullar (Eds.), Feminism at the movies: Understanding gender in contemporary popular cinema (pp. 36–50). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Howard, H. (2012). A confederacy of bachelors. New York Times. Retrieved from https://mobile.nytimes.com/2012/08/05/nyregion/four-men-sharing-rent-and-friendship-for-18-years.html.
- Ibson, J. (2002). Picturing men: A century of male relationships in everyday American photography. Illinois: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Joffe, H. (2012). Thematic analysis. In D. Harper & A. Thompson (Eds.), Qualitative research methods in mental health and psychotherapy: An introduction for students and practitioners (pp. 209–224). Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
- Jourard, S. (1971). The transparent self. New York: Van Nostrand.Google Scholar
- Kerrick, M. R., & Henry, R. L. (2017). “Totally in love”: Evidence of a master narrative for how new mothers should feel about their babies. Sex Roles, 76(1–2), 1–16. doi: 10.1007/s11199-016-0666-2.
- Kimmel, M. (1994). Manhood in America. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Kimmel, M. (2004). Masculinity as homophobia: Fear, shame, and silence in the construction of gender identity. In P. Rothenberg (Ed.), Race, class, and gender in the United States: An integrated study (pp. 81–93). New York: Worth.Google Scholar
- Kobak, R., Rosenthal, N., Zajac, K., & Madsen, S. (2007). Adolescent attachment hierarchies and the search for an adult pair-bond. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, Fall, (117), 57–72. doi: 10.1002/cd.194.
- Magrath, R., Anderson, E., & Roberts, S. (2015). On the door-step of equality: Attitudes toward gay athletes among academy-level footballers. International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 50(7), 804–821. doi: 10.1177/1012690213495747.
- Miller, N. (1995). Out of the past: Gay and lesbian history from 1869 to the present. London: Vintage.Google Scholar
- Morris, M., & Anderson, E. (2015). Charlie is so cool like: Authenticity, popularity and inclusive masculinity on YouTube. Sociology, 49(6), 1200–1217. doi: 10.1177/0038038514562852.
- Murray, A., & White, A. (2015). Twelve not so angry men: Inclusive masculinities in Australian contact sports. International Review for the Sociology of Sport. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/1012690215609786.
- Nardi, P. (1999). Gay men's friendships: Invincible communities. Illinois: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Office for National Statistics. (2012). Marriages in England and Wales, provisional 2012. Retrieved from http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/dcp171778_366530.pdf.
- Olstad, K. (1975). Brave new men: A basis for discussion. In J. Petras (Ed.), Sex. male/gender. Masculine. Port Washington: AlfredGoogle Scholar
- Pollack, W. (1999). Real boys: Rescuing our sons from the myths of boyhood. New York: Macmillan.Google Scholar
- Poplawski, P. (1989). Psychological and qualitative dimensions of friendship among men: An examination of intimacy, sex-role, loneliness, control and the friendship experience (unpublished dissertation). Philadelphia: Temple University.Google Scholar
- Scoats, R. (2015). Inclusive masculinity and Facebook photographs among early emerging adults at a British university. Journal of Adolescent Research, 1-23. doi: 10.1177/0743558415607059.
- Scourfield, J. (2005). Suicidal masculinities. Sociological Research Online, 10(2). Retrieved from http://www.socresonline.org.uk/10/2/scourfield.html.
- Sedgwick, E. K. (1985). Between men: English literature and male homosocial desire. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Seiden, A., & Bart, P. (1975). Woman to woman: Is sisterhood powerful? In N. Glazer-Malbin (Ed.), Old family/new family (pp. 189–228). New York: Van Nostrand.Google Scholar
- Sherrod, D. (1987). The bonds of men: Problems and possibilities in close male relationships. In H. Bord (Ed.), The making of masculinities: The new men's studies (pp. 212–239). Boston: Allen and Unwin.Google Scholar
- Tripp, C. (2005). The intimate world of Abraham Lincoln. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Weeks, J., Holland, J., & Waites, M. (2003). Sexualities and society: A reader. Oxford: Polity Press.Google Scholar
- White, A., & Hobson, M. (2015). Teachers' stories: Physical education teachers' constructions and experiences of masculinity within secondary school physical education. Sport, Education and Society. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1080/13573322.2015.1112779.