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date: 23 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The folklore of family and friends is a primary social frame of traditional knowledge, promoting distinctive values, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Their associated narratives share certain characteristics. They have long been mined by folklorists as popular forms of personal experience narrative, and their transmission is somewhat gender dependent. Unlike friendship narrative, however, family narrative is widely studied in its own right. This chapter argues for a deeper study of friendship narrative, given (1) its role as a performative utterance, reflecting agency that helps form and maintain the group; (2) its horizontal, egalitarian mode of transmission; (3) the effect of the relative ephemerality of friendships; and (4) the role of gossip. The tension between tradition and innovation in American society and the growing importance of friendship groups in the culture, particularly through social media, make friendship narrative an increasingly compelling area of folklore scholarship and a potential means for countering intergroup hostilities.

Keywords: family, folklore, friendship, gender, gossip, memorate, narrative, social media, storytelling

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