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Christmas, Religion, and a New God

New book: Friend v. Friend: The Transformation of Friendship--and What the Law Has to Do with It

FVF Mark D. White

I recently received Friend v. Friend: The Transformation of Friendship--and What the Law Has to Do with It, the latest book from Oxford University Press by Ethan J. Leib, professor of law at University of California-Hastings and one of the regular bloggers at PrawfsBlawg. It's a book that I'm anticipating enjoying immensely, and which I hope to blog about at Psychology Today when I have time to fully digest it.

More information from the publisher below the fold:

Friendship is one of our most important social institutions. It is the not only the salve for personal loneliness and isolation; it is the glue that binds society together. Yet for a host of reasons--longer hours at work, the Internet, suburban sprawl--many have argued that friendship is on the decline in contemporary America. In social surveys, researchers have found that Americans on average have fewer friends today than in times past.

In Friend v. Friend, Ethan J. Leib takes stock of this most ancient of social institutions and its ongoing transformations, and contends that it could benefit from better and more sensitive public policies. Leib shows that the law has not kept up with changes in our society: it sanctifies traditional family structures but has no thoughtful approach to other aspects of our private lives. Leib contrasts our excessive legal sensitivity to marriage and families with the lack of legal attention to friendship, and shows why more legal attention to friendship could actually improve our public institutions and our civil society. He offers a number of practical proposals that can support new patterns of interpersonal affinity without making friendship an onerous legal burden.

An elegantly written and highly original account of the changing nature of friendship, Friend v. Friend upends the conventional wisdom that law and friendship are inimical, and shows how we can strengthen both by seeing them as mutually reinforcing.

"Should the law intervene in the world of friendship? In Friend v. Friend, Ethan Leib offers a provocative affirmative answer. With engaging style and illuminating arguments, Leib shows why and how the law and public policy can bolster some of our most vital intimate connections. Shattering misconceptions, the book pioneers a new vision of contemporary friendship."--Viviana A. Zelizer, Professor of Sociology, Princeton University, and author of Economic Lives: How Culture Shapes the Economy

"Ethan Leib has written a remarkable meditation not only on friendship, but also on the degree to which legal institutions should acknowledge the reality of friendships in a variety of different contexts. Sometimes this would have the effect of protecting friends against the intrusion of the state; other times, however, the state might be willing to enforce certain expectations of friendship upon their betrayal by someone now viewed as a 'false friend.' One need not agree with all of Leib's particular arguments in order to feel genuinely stimulated and challenged about something that is presumably important to all of us."--Sanford Levinson, Professor of Law, University of Texas Law School, and author of "Testimonial Privileges and the Preferences of Friendship" (Duke Law Journal

"Ethan Leib persuasively argues for friendship's proper place in the law and, surprisingly, that the legal system can properly protect and nourish friendship's rich textures of intimacy and mutual engagement. Social scientists who have long considered friendship as inimical to all formality, certainly to law, are in for a bracing challenge. Leib's book is a model of clarity of thought, grace in argument and lucidity of style."--Allan Silver, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Columbia University

"Friend v. Friend is a vivid, broad-ranging, and always engaging essay on a subject whose importance is matched only by its prior neglect. Ethan Leib has made an insistently human and yet still practical intervention into a relation that lies at the center of every thriving social order and each flourishing individual life."--Daniel Markovits, Professor of Law, Yale Law School, author of A Modern Legal Ethics: Adversary Advocacy in a Democratic Age


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