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The liveable lives study: understanding everyday help and support: report

Author(s)

ANDERSON Simon, BROWNLIE Julie, MILNE Elisabeth-Jane

Publisher(s):

Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Publication year:

2015

This study highlights an overlooked component of social cohesion – everyday acts of informal help and support within communities. While such acts are often mundane and practical - small loans, lifts, help with shopping - they can also have a significant emotional dimension. Although these acts are often simple, navigating them is not: the researchers find that opposing moral forces complicate this picture. Concepts of the ‘deserving’, of stoicism and the imperative to help others all feature in this study. Key points include: the character of informal support among family, friends and even strangers is shaped by the social and physical characteristics of areas but also by the narratives that attach to them; in the often unspoken moral framework underpinning these interactions, both reciprocity (giving back) and mutuality (where both parties benefit from the interaction) are important elements; public policy needs to recognise both the interactional complexity and the emotional significance of everyday help and support. In the context of political debate around austerity and the scope of the state, the infrastructural qualities of such relationships need to be recognised. While such support makes possible other aspects of social life, it also requires maintenance and repair in its own right. (Edited publisher abstract)


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