You’ve Got a Friend in Me: Types of Friendship among Individuals with High Professional Status

Annika Hoeft

The upper end of the status and wealth distribution in Germany is characterized by a concentrated number of positions that are seemingly accessible only to certain individuals. These positions often result from historical developments and represent dynamic social standings based significantly on professional roles and social networks. But how exactly is status and wealth reproduced through social networks, particularly friendships? Research suggests that family structures and dynamic relationships within the family, as well as professional advisors, play a crucial role in the reproduction of status and wealth. These factors have a particularly pronounced effect on individuals with high professional status. In this context, friendships serve as an extended resonance space to balance the various influencing factors and help individuals safely navigate the process of reproduction emotionally and functionally. This dissertation project aims to elaborate on the diverse functions and meanings of friendships among individuals with high professional status. Special attention is paid to institutionalized friendships, such as those within service clubs, in order to distinguish them from more informal life-course friendships. This is done using a mixed-methods approach and integrating theory from organizational and friendship sociology. In this way, an understanding of the lifeworlds of friendships at the top of the social and economic order in Germany will be developed.

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