Intimacy in young women's friendships: symbols and rituals

Katie Letchfield, Trish Hafford-Letchfield

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


The phenomenon of friendship and its function and purpose within social work and social care is significantly under-researched. This chapter outlines the function of symbols and ritual in relation to ideals of 'friendships' among young women. It draws principally from a small qualitative study involving semi-structured interviews with five women aged 18–25 years during which they discussed their friendships. We discuss key themes from the data analysis and draw out the importance of intimacy in friendships for young women within this stage of the life course. The findings indicated that not only do rituals and symbols create and support internal intimacy, but also constituted practices informed by a cultural ideal of what it means to be a 'friend'. The implications for how social work assessment and interventions takes these into account when working with young people and other service user groups is then explored.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSexuality Sexual and Gender Identities and Intimacy Research in Social Work and Social Care
Subtitle of host publicationA Lifecourse Epistemology
EditorsDunk-West Priscilla, Hafford-Letchfield Trish
Place of PublicationLondon, New York
Number of pages29
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2018


  • sexuality
  • intimacy
  • friendships
  • rituals
  • symbols
  • young women


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