Buying your friends: Friendship, markets and companionate robots for children

Mary Healy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The aim of this article is to examine how markets enable companionship to be disconnected from the concept of friendship thus enabling the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship. As friendship is a crucial early relationship for children, this is particularly germane to the world of education. It recognises the previous lack of philosophical attention to the idea of companionship – a key factor in friendship – and that this omission contributes to a lack of clarity on a variety of issues. Starting with a brief outline of companion friendship, the article examines the idea of the ‘intimate work’ of friendship within the market domain by considering three illustrative examples: first, rent-a-friend; secondly paid companionship; ending with companionate robots for children. It then concludes by contending that this is an important issue for children and their development and thus for education.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberCORE-2020-0089
Number of pages23
JournalOxford Review of Education
Publication statusSubmitted - 29 May 2020


  • companion friends; paid companionship; rent-a-friend; companionate robots; philosophy of friendship; school policy

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