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Unequal Friendship

The Patron-Client Relationship in Historical Perspective


Antoni Mączak

This book analyzes the patron-client relationship over both space and time. It covers such areas of the globe as Europe, Africa and Latin America, and such periods in time as ancient Rome, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Poland, as well as twentieth-century America. It also analyzes clientelism in U.S. policy toward the Vietnam War and in Richard J. Daley’s mayoral rule over Chicago. In his comparative approach the author makes broad use of theories from such fields as history, sociology, anthropology and linguistics while considering the global scale of the patron-client relationship and the immense role that clientelism has played in world history.

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Chapter 3: Gestures of a Lop-Sided Friendship


The term “informal,” which I use often in this book, means something different in the context of social relations (particularly in the context of the structure of power) than it does when we are speaking of human behavior. The second “behavioral” aspect is clearly not detached from the first, though it sometimes clearly contradicts it. I would like now to shed some light precisely on these sometimes paradoxical phenomena.

1. The Social Function of the Kiss

The “kiss” appears in the pages of this book several times, but its erotic function is not the issue here. Like the word “friendship/friend” it is often a symbol that, even in Western culture, takes on many meanings and defines a wide variety of relationships between partners. In Christian tradition, the kiss is usually a sign of peace, but also a sign of devotion and reverence.175 In the Synoptic Gospels there is no doubt that the kiss was a normal custom in those days; it was a form of greeting and a way of paying homage, as in the Gospel According to Luke (7:45): “Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.” In the end, even Judas’s kiss of betrayal suggests that among Israelites 2000 years ago the kiss was a common form of greeting.176 The Pauline and Petrine epistles177 end with a call for a parting kiss. There is no mention of this...

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