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The Potential of Friendship: A Case for Social Resilience

Kulpa, Roberto; Ludwin, Katherine


Katherine Ludwin


The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic mark a crisis of neoliberal ideologies of entrepreneurial individualism underpinning global precarity globally, nationally, and at the level of personal and community networks and relation(ship)s. In Poland and the UK, our two cases, ‘pandemic discourses’ and support systems have been heavily skewed towards economic consequences and relief for ‘families’. At the same time, friendship practices of mutual support were occasionally marked as non-essential in comparison to family support.

In this presentation, we call for greater recognition of friendship as a basic social relation that should play a pivotal role in re-imagining social resilience if it is to be future-proof in the face of social upheaval such as the current pandemic.

We draw on existing research reports and publications from two different, yet surprisingly similar in some respect, geo-cultural examples, furthermore supported by an early scoping of emergent data about the impact of the Covid-19. We suggest that friendship is an important component of heterogenic social realities of pandemic that must not be overlooked. We scrutinise current, narrowly focused policy decision-making that marginalises already disenfranchised groups to suggest that thinking with/about friendships opens up imagination towards strategies with greater potential for building socially resilient communities.

We will argue that strengthening societal resilience will not be effective or pro-active enough without a political revalidation of other social relations beyond family. Recognising (e.g. politically) friendship as such a fundamental social relation helps in nuanced understandings of (individual and group) resilience and, consequently, more effective pandemic responses.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name 70th Annual Conference of the British Sociological Association
Start Date Apr 13, 2021
End Date Apr 15, 2021
Publication Date Apr 13, 2021
Deposit Date Dec 16, 2022
Keywords friendship, resilience, social policy, social justice, care ethics, neoliberalism,
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