Who Are Friends? The Changing Definition of ‘Friends’ in Social Supply Networks.

K Lowe1, KA Joe-Laidler1
1The Univeristy Of Hong Kong , , Hong Kong

Through three decades of research, the definition of social supply has evolved beyond merely supplying friends where profit is not the primary motive (Potter, 2009). Yet the term ‘friend’ in a social supply situation has been largely taken for granted. The research directly addresses this gap in the literature and the question raised by Coomber and Moyle’s in (2014) in which they highlight that definitions of social supply have tended to stop short of explaining “where the grey areas confound legal boundaries areas – such as who are friends” (Pg159).

The research addresses the question as to who are defined as friends in social supply situations. We untangle the notion of ‘friendship’ in various drugs markets in Hong Kong, and illustrate how the definition of a ‘friend’ in social supply situations is shaped by the user’s social class and ethnicity/race. Furthermore, how a user’s flexible notion of ‘friends’ underpins the construction, maintenance and policing of social supply networks. Finally, we discuss how a further understanding of who friends are may help us clarify the loose definitions of social supply from a theoretical and policy implication perspective.

Originally from England, Katie is a qualified criminal barrister in the UK with 10 years’ experience in legal search. She has lived in Hong Kong for the last decade and is currently reading a P.h.D in Criminology at the University of Hong Kong. She is interested in areas of risk, crime, and gender. More specifically, she is interested in drugs use,  drug supply, and subcultures within Asia. Katie’s thesis focuses on the theory of edgework (voluntary risk taking) and cocaine use amongst expatriates within Hong Kong. Her supervisor is Professor Karen. A. Joe- Laidler.


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