Friendship is increasingly drawing attention as a concept used to explain the variety of ways in which migrants develop and sustain local and transnational relations. The advantage of this approach is its focus on social capital and those ‘sustaining and inspirational aspects’ of friendship that contribute to shaping different aspects of mobile individuals’ lives (Conradson and Latham, 2005: 301), instead of interpreting migrant sociality and urban conviviality in super-diverse conditions in terms of ethnic communities. At the same time, the focus on friendship suggests the contingent and nuanced character of these close social ties. Drawing upon an ethnographic case study of a group of young Russian-speaking migrants from post-Soviet countries and their social relationships in a London bar, this article explores the role of friendship in a migrant group located within a particular physical and social space. The place served as an important social junction, and its Russian-speaking network of bartenders and regulars was a source of friendly support and empowerment for its members, helping them confront feelings of marginality. However, close and intimate ties were also at times connected with power relations, reflecting social divisions and the reinforcement of ethnic/national stereotypes regarding those excluded from this social network. This article highlights that friendship encompasses a diverse and dynamic range of inclusionary and exclusionary practices, and discusses how migrant sociality can be negotiated through these practices.
The paper can be accessed here.