Friendship and enmity under state communism
The case of East Germany
People’s personal networks are conditioned by the institutions of the society they live in. Communist rule not only accounts for the emergence of a specific type of friendship but also for the growth of suspicion and enmity in one’s personal relations. Friendship is provided by someone’s partner, « best friends », and close family, who together form a « niche » that protects against the adverse consequences of the political control by the regime. The organized dependency on the party for nearly all opportunities accounts for enmity against those with whom one would not voluntarily interact, but who come as part of a network package, like relations to persons at work or in the neighborhood. In a case study of the GDR it is shown that the citizen’s friends and foes are rather similar to the citizen self with regard to education and occupation. This association between institutions and networks can be understood by interpreting social interaction as investments in social capital.