Enabling Social Networks a Response to Constrained Individual Agency Approaches to Long Term Condition Management Under Neo-Liberalism
In this paper we argue that the construct of social network type offers a way of capturing the inter-personal environment (Shiovitz-Ezra and Litwin 2012) that counters the constraints of individualised actions and agency. Drawing on a study conducted in six EU countries, UK, Netherlands, Spain, Bulgaria, Greece, and Norway, with 1,800 respondents, we identified five network types: family-centred, family supported, isolated, diverse-weak ties, diverse-friends. We show how diverse networks are likely to promote high levels of informational and emotional support and self-management capacity, while family-centred networks report higher levels of happiness and well-being. We use the findings from this study to analyse how network types are important constructs in understanding the capacity and constraints of individuals to manage chronic illness and the how engagement with a wide range of links including to community group memberships, friends, and acquaintances are facilitators of managing illness and to accessing high levels of network support.