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Abstract

This article is concerned with the impact of late modernity on patterns of solidarity in friend and family relationships. It takes as its starting point the transformations in partnership, family, and household formation and dissolution that have been occurring in Western societies since the 1970s. Accepting these shifts as indicative of the greater freedoms people now have over the construction of their personal relationships and social networks, the article examines the degree to which the domains of family and friendship are merging. Its principal argument is that despite increased flexibility in the construction of personal life, including diversity in the prioritization of different relationships, at a cultural level clear boundaries exist between family and friendship ties.