Why rely on friends instead of family? The role of exchanges and civic engagement in a rural sub-Saharan African context

Tyler W. Myroniuk*, Christina Prell, Hans-Peter Kohler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Social science research has shown there is a nearly universal norm of seeking assistance from family members in times of need. However, when do individuals prefer to rely on friends, rather than family members, when they need support? This question has not been carefully addressed. To fill this gap in the literature we examine why rural Malawians - who typically have strong bonds with kin - might prefer to rely on friends instead of family if a crisis were to occur. Using the 2008 and 2010 waves of the Malawi Longitudinal Study of Families and Health (MLSFH), we consider how financial and non-financial exchanges with kin, and civic engagement, are associated with the composition of individuals' support networks. We find the decision to request a friend's help during a crisis is consistently associated with participation in civic-oriented activities, expanding our understanding of the determinants of different risk-pooling strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-596
Number of pages18
JournalAfrican studies
Volume76
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • civic engagement
  • crises
  • exchange
  • friends
  • Malawi
  • networks
  • NETWORK STRUCTURE
  • FUNERAL FRIENDSHIP
  • SOCIAL NETWORKS
  • MALAWI
  • TIES
  • HIV/AIDS
  • STRENGTH
  • SUPPORT
  • ORGANIZATION
  • GENERATOR

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