New publication "‘Friends are those who can help you out’: unpacking the understanding and experiences of friendship among young migrant workers in China" by Mao Jingyu
News from Apr 19, 2023
March 28, 2023, the article "‘Friends are those who can help you out’: unpacking the understanding and experiences of friendship among young migrant workers in China" by Mao Jingyu (University of Bielefeld, 2022 fellow in the Worldmaking project Social Worlds: China's Cities as Spaces of Worldmaking) and Yan Zhu (University College London) was published in the journal Families, Relationships and Societies • vol XX • no XX • 1–17.
Based on lengthy ethnographic fieldwork in Southwest China, this article unpacks how precarity and migration have deeply shaped young migrant workers’ understanding and experiences of friendship. The precarious work and living conditions compel young migrants to put more emphasis on the instrumental aspects of friendship, in which they deeply value friends’ help and practical support, which also intertwine closely with the emotional aspects of friendship. High mobility does not mean that migrants are not able to form and maintain ‘meaningful’ social relationships; rather, it is friends’ support and help which sustain migrants’ precarious and highly mobile ways of living. This article also discusses the burdens and risks that are associated with such friendship practices, and how, despite these ‘dark sides of friendship’, young migrant workers still largely rely on their friends to survive and keep going in the city.