Monday, February 12, 2007

Question On Mateship

Watching the ABC’s Difference of Opinion, I began to think about the concept of ‘mateship’ and how it differs from ‘friendship’.

This led to a question that needs more attention in Australia than it has possibly been given – what is ‘mateship’?


Rowan Blyth said...

Well it does imply something more like the terms 'brother' or 'comrade', but some how lacking the common cause. Granted this is supposedly the common cause of being egalitarian Australians; I'm not really sure that egalitarianism is anything more than a buzz word. Avoiding the fuzzy term 'Australian', mateship really does feel like the desperate need for a certain breed of aging white males born in, or long settled in Australia, to cling to something which can be termed 'a cultural identity'.

Maaaaate! Give me friends anyday.

MH said...

So, we agree that there is a distinction between ‘friendship’ and ‘mateship’.

The thought I’m trying to clarify presently is whether or not ‘mateship’ exists as a relation between individuals independently of ‘friendship’. It seems possible to say that, in a given context such as fighting a bushfire, A and B were ‘mates’ but that they were never ‘friends’. This points to the relationship resting on some form of solidarity in an adverse circumstance, and seems to suggest, as you point out, that mateship is a close kin to camaraderie.

Rowan Blyth said...

Clearly there can be a use of these terms in which they are synonyms, and also a use of mate that implies procreating partner, but I think in the sense of mateship versus friendship, then it is reasonable to use your distinction.