Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2803

Editorial | Open Access

In Good Company? Personal Relationships, Network Embeddedness, and Social Inclusion

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Abstract:  How do individuals’ networks of personal relationships affect their social in‐ and exclusion? Researchers have shown that micro‐level, informal relationships can be highly consequential for social inclusion, but in complex, contradictory ways: Personal networks reflect the degree of relational exclusion and protect against (other forms of) exclusion, but they also erode in conditions of exclusion and reproduce exclusion. While network researchers have widely studied some of these mechanisms, they have yet to embrace others. Therefore, this thematic issue reconsiders the complex relationship between personal networks and social inclusion. It offers a unique vantage point by bringing together researchers who work with different marginalised social groups, typically studied separately: refugees, transnational migrants, indigenous people, older people, people experiencing poverty, LGBT people, and women who have experienced domestic violence. This combination allows us to detect commonalities and differences in network functioning across historically excluded groups. This editorial lays the theoretical groundwork for the thematic issue and discusses the key contributions of the seventeen articles that compose the issue. We call for more attention to relationship expectations, the reciprocity of support flows, and contextual embeddedness, and question universally adopted theoretical binaries such as that of bonding and bridging social capital.

Keywords:  bonding and bridging; embeddedness; inequality; informal protection; network erosion; personal networks; relationship expectations; reproduction; social inclusion; social relationships



© Miranda J. Lubbers. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.