Intergenerational friendship as a conduit for social inclusion? Insights from the “book‐ends”

Riikka Korkiamäki, Catherine Elliott O’dare

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Friendship is said to promote psychological and physical well‐being and increase social inclusion. Yet, intergenerational friendship has garnered little research attention due to the assumed dominance of age homophily in friendship. In this article we explore intergenerational friendship from the perspective of “younger” and “older” friends at the “generational book‐ends” of the life course. We focus on the role that intergenerational friendship plays in processes of social inclusion in the everyday lives of the participants, bringing together a study conducted in Finland and one in Ireland. Both studies employ qualitative methodology, drawing from interviews with 31 young people who were refugees (aged 13–18) in Finland and 23 older people (aged 65+) in Ireland. Our findings reveal that the younger and the older participants concur on the qualities and benefits of intergenerational friendship. Additionally, while age is not a uniform definer of friendships, differences in chronological age are not meaningless but support caring, enjoyment, and inclusion in alternative ways com-pared to peer‐aged friendships. Access to diverse company, distinct support, broader networks, and alternative identities lead to increased experiences of social inclusion at a personal and societal level. We conclude by calling on policy makers and communities to create spaces and opportunities for inclusion through friendship for all generations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)304-314
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Inclusion
Volume9
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Keywords

  • Book‐end generations
  • Friendship
  • Intergenerational friendship
  • Older people
  • Social inclusion
  • Young people

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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