Friendship: An Inclusive Interdisciplinary Conference

Rob  Fisher's picture
October 12, 2019 to October 13, 2019
Subject Fields: 
Anthropology, Humanities, Popular Culture Studies, Sexuality Studies, Social Sciences

Friendship: An Inclusive Interdisciplinary Conference

Saturday 12th October 2019 to Sunday 13th October 2019
Vienna, Austria

This inclusive conference aims to explore all aspects of friendship through an interdisciplinary dialogue that transcends the boundaries of the intellectual, the emotional and the personal with a view to forming a selective innovative publication.

Few relationships are as significant as our friendships. The Buddha was once asked by his cousin, Ananda, “Is friendship part of the path?” The Buddha’s response, “No Ananda, friendship is the whole path,” suggesting the momentous power and meaning attributed to friendships. Certainly, close friendships can be as just as important to us as familial bonds. Conversely, the absence of friends can cause feelings of loneliness and isolation. Although the general psychological and biological benefits of friendship have been well documented, the actual experience of friendship is a deeply personal one. Not only do we each have our own views on what friendship means, we each have our own approach to choosing our friends.

Because of this element of subjectivity, friendship is a complex concept that deserves more extensive exploration of personal experiences and the ways in which it shapes, and is shaped by, social norms. The interplay between the way friendship is understood in a particular society and the way it is experienced by individuals raises a variety of questions: how do friendships form; what is the basis for the ‘attraction’ that underpins them; what purposes do they serve; why has friendship come to be regarded as a universal ‘good’; how do meanings of friendship change over time; what does it mean to be a “good friend”; what tangible things can be done to promote friendship as a social value; how might the conduct among friends be harnessed for the communal good more broadly; and more.

This first inclusive conference aims to explore these and other facets of friendship through an inter-disciplinary dialogue that transcends the boundaries of the intellectual, the emotional and the personal with a view to forming a selective and innovative publication to engender further research and collaboration. Conference proposals are invited for: presentations, papers, panels, workshops, readings, performances, screenings and installations on any aspect of friendship, including the following themes:

Philosophical justifications and critiques of friendship
Friendship in sacred texts and spiritual traditions
Historical perspectives on friendship
Physiological and neurological perspectives on friendship
Impact of poor mental or physical health on friendship, and relevant coping strategies
Counselling and self-help approaches to friendship issues
Intimacy and friendship
Dynamics of specific types of friendships: humans and animals, “bromance”, “best friends”, fraternal bonds, etc.
Factors that cause friendships to form, breakdown, change, rekindle
Impact of gender, sexuality, sex, class, religion, nationality, culture, and race on friendship
Friendship and the process of growing up, maturing and ageing
Non-human friendships: Friendships between animals, institutions, nations, etc.
Rivalries between friends; ‘frenemies’; friendship and ideological differences
Teaching friendship in the school curriculum
Technology and Friendship: impact of inventions and technology on how friendships form and develop, friendship and artificial intelligence/robots, social media
Famous friendships and how they inform understandings of friendship
Dark sides of friendship: cliques, nepotism, exploitation, conspiracies, etc.
Legal recognition of friendship
Models of friendship in film, television, songs, theatre, video-games, literature, etc.
The role of churches, NGOs, social policy and charities in promoting the values of friendship in the public sphere
What to Send
The aim of this inclusive interdisciplinary conference and collaborative networking event is to bring people together and encourage creative conversations in the context of a variety of formats: papers, seminars, workshops, storytelling, performances, poster presentations, panels, q&a’s, round-tables etc. Please feel free to put forward proposals that you think will get the message across, in whatever form.

300 word proposals for participation should be submitted by Friday 12th April 2019. Other forms of participation should be discussed in advance with the Organising Chair.

All submissions will be minimally double reviewed, under anonymous (blind) conditions, by a global panel drawn from members of the Project Development Team and the Advisory Board. In practice our procedures usually entail that by the time a proposal is accepted, it will have been triple and quadruple reviewed.

You will be notified of the panel’s decision by Friday 26th April 2019.

If your submission is accepted for the conference, a full draft of your contribution should be submitted by Friday 23rd August 2019.

Abstracts and proposals may be in Word, PDF, RTF or Notepad formats with the following information and in this order:
a) author(s), b) affiliation as you would like it to appear in the programme, c) email address, d) title of proposal, e) body of proposal, f) up to 10 keywords.

E-mails should be entitled: Friendship Submission.

Where to Send
Abstracts should be submitted simultaneously to the Organising Chair and the Project Administrator:

Professor Janette McDonald:
Project Administrator:

What’s so Special About Progressive Connexions Events?
A fresh, friendly, dynamic format – at Progressive Connexions we are dedicated to breaking away from the stuffy, old-fashion conference formats, where endless presentations are read aloud off PowerPoints. We work to bring you an interactive format, where exchange of experience and information is alternated with captivating workshops, engaging debates and round tables, time set aside for getting to know each other and for discussing common future projects and initiatives, all in a warm, relaxed, egalitarian atmosphere.

A chance to network with international professionals – the beauty of our interdisciplinary events is that they bring together professionals from all over the world and from various fields of activity, all joined together by a shared passion. Not only will the exchange of experience, knowledge and stories be extremely valuable in itself, but we seek to create lasting, ever-growing communities around our projects, which will become a valuable resource for those belonging to them.

A chance to be part of constructing change – There is only one thing we love as much as promoting knowledge: promoting real, lasting social change by encouraging our participants to take collective action, under whichever form is most suited to their needs and expertise (policy proposals, measuring instruments, research projects, educational materials, etc.) We will support all such actions in the aftermath of the event as well, providing a platform for further discussions, advice from the experts on our Project Advisory Team and various other tools and intellectual resources, as needed.

An opportunity to discuss things that matter to you – Our events are not only about discussing how things work in the respective field, but also about how people work in that field – what are the struggles, problems and solutions professionals have found in their line of work, what are the areas where better communication among specialists is needed and how the interdisciplinary approach can help bridge those gaps and help provide answers to questions from specific areas of activity.

An unforgettable experience – When participating in a Progressive Connexions event, there is a good chance you will make some long-time friends. Our group sizes are intimate, our venues are comfortable and relaxing and our event locations are suited to the history and culture of the event.

Progressive Connexions believes it is a mark of personal courtesy and professional respect to your colleagues that all delegates should attend for the full duration of the meeting. If you are unable to make this commitment, please do not submit an abstract or proposal for presentation.

Please note: Progressive Connexions is a not-for-profit network and we are not in a position to be able to assist with conference travel or subsistence, nor can we offer discounts off published rates and fees.


Web address:

Sponsored by: Progressive Connexions

Contact Info: 

Dr Robert Fisher
Progressive Connexions
Priory House, Wroslyn Road, Freeland, Oxfordshire OX29 8HR
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1993 882087