I just heard that the sociologist of friendship, Professor Ray Pahl, died on Friday, June 3. It is sad news to receive, though I knew he’d been unwell recently.
I greatly appreciated my times with Ray, and engaging with his books on friendship too. He was a generous, open person to meet and talk with, and I particularly valued his work on friendship because he knew that to really engage with the subject you have to ask about the quality of friends people have, not just the quantity, which is the sociologist’s default option.
Hence social capital, let alone some notion of the number of friends we need or are capable of, was of some interest to him, but was strictly of limited analytical value. Rather, and along with Liz Spencer, he developed the notion of personal communities.
So if you want to read an excellent sociology of friendship their book, Rethinking Friendship, is a must. And Ray’s earlier book, On Friendship, is a good prima too.