Covid-19’s effects on strong and weak ties in middle-class families. Insights from intergenerational qualitative longitudinal data
The contact restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic influence social relationships in families and at work. Drawing on Granovetter’s network theory, the changes of strong and weak ties in different life spheres of middle-class families and their importance for coping with the crisis are analyzed. The article builds on intergenerational qualitative longitudinal data that was collected in a project on status maintenance of middle-class families that conducted narrative family interviews with three generations between August 2018 and August 2021. In general, strong ties to close family members and friends continued during the pandemic through modified interaction practices and even intensified. They provided reciprocal and emotional social support, which was needed to cope with changing social conditions and uncertainties. Restrictions were experienced by the oldest generation or when intrafamilial dependencies were reactivated. Regarding weak ties, distinctions must be made between different spheres and ties. Ties to more distant relatives and friends became looser or were cut, while neighborhoods gained significance. Central work and business ties to colleagues and customers were transformed and thus maintained, while more casual work relationships like professional networks were reduced or cut. Inequality effects can be observed to the detriment of women and the youngest generation.
Schad, Miriam und Andrea Hense. 2023. Covid-19’s effects on strong and weak ties in middle-class families. Insights from intergenerational qualitative longitudinal data. In: Soziale Welt 74, Nr. 1: 40–63. doi: 10.5771/0038-6073-2023-1-40.