In the preceding chapters of this book I have focused on how children's friendships vary with age. In the main, friendships were treated as if they were relatively homogeneous. Even the most casual recollection by anyone of the variety of their relationships will confirm that this is self-evidently not the case. A relationship does not exist in isolation, it exists in the context of a multitude of other factors which will affect how it is to be played out. On a number of occasions I did touch on examples and topics that clearly indicated the potential variety of influences on the form and function of children's friendships, and the aim of this chapter is to broaden and deepen these considerations. Under the heading of 'context' I will gather together a very broad range of factors that may affect the pattern of children's friendships either directly, through their impact on the relationship itself, or indirectly, through their influence on the individual participants.