Abstracts - For Love or Money Conference


Professor of Law
Washington University Law

Friendship at Work
Many adults spend half or more of their waking hours at work, in the process forming relationships with supervisors, co-workers, subordinates, customers and other third parties.  Although such relationships are at times primarily transactional, at other times they occur between friends, family members, sexual partners or members of various civic organizations, or come to take on the qualities of those affiliations.  This article examines the aspects of these work relationships that exceed the interaction necessary to perform the work at hand, concluding that friendship in particular has become an increasingly crucial component of success in the workplace.   Friendship has assumed this role both by creating connections that lead to promotions and higher status and, less obviously, by providing care and support to workers in increasingly uncertain and competitive workplace environments.   Some legal scholars have categorized such effects of friendship as “favoritism” and have considered ways to eliminate that favoritism in order to promote meritocracy and anti-discrimination goals in the workplace.   This article takes a somewhat different tack, exploring what friendship at work means for evolving understandings of care, friendship and family, for considerations of the construction of identity in the workplace, and for theorizing the work/family divide in general.