Emotional Closeness and Physical Distance Between Friends: Implications for Elderly Women Living in Age-Segregated and Age-Integrated Settings

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Rebecca G. Adams, Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/

Abstract: The author discusses the need for a better theoretical understanding of friendship in order for its role in the lives of elderly people to be understood. The applicability to friendship of Simmel's approach to the study of social relationships is outlined. From this perspective, types of friendship are determined by the physical distance separating friends and the emotional closeness bringing them together. The data consist of seventy in-depth interviews of senior, unmarried women in a middle-class community bordering on Chicago. Qualitative data are reported to support quantitative analyses. There were positive relationships between emotional closeness and physical distance, duration and emotional closeness, and frequency of interaction and proximity. The author describes the implications for elderly women of the tendency for their close, old friends to be physically separated from them and their neighbors to be casual friends, but constant companions. The author discusses the effects of the age-density of residential context and life history on the types of friends the women had.

Additional Information

International Journal of Aging and Human Development
Language: English
Date: 1986
elderly, women, middle-class, relationships

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