Pop sociology exploring the changing face of friendship in today's culture. Pogrebin, a founding editor of Ms. Magazine and author of Growing Up Free, Family Politics, and Getting Yours, among others, divides her work into three parts. First there are ""Definitions and Passages,"" in which she seeks to explain what friendship is. She finds certain contradictions here, such as the changing role of friendship. ""In earlier times, friendship was a haven from stress; today our friendships (or lack of them) are frequently source of stress, another area in which to fail."" Modern humanity is lonely, yet fea, intimacy. And numbers don't help the situation. In a 100-day period, a survey found that the average person interacted with up to 2,500 people, yet numbered only three to seven real friends. The problem, Pogrebin asserts, stems from a mix of depersonalization, social mobility, competition, fragmentation, and changing sex roles. Pogrebin loses steam after this interesting beginning. Basically, she finds that the universe is unfolding as it should, noting that the recent spate of ""caring"" bumper-stickers and other such manifestations of ""community"" argues nobly that people have recognized the problem and the need. Such intimations point to a certain rosy-glassed naivetÃ‰ on her part--never does she even hint at the maudlin nature of many of these expressions. There is also a disturbing reverse chauvinism in her conclusions that women offer the best example of tree friendships (there are only two examples), and that men stifle their emotions too much to ever be good friends. In friendships, she says, men seek only fun and loyalty. Pop sociology, to be sure, but she's got a large and loyal following and her topic is enough with us to draw crowds.