Economic crises have a very real and direct impact on relationships, which themselves are critical for mental and physical health and well-being (WHO, 2011). When faced with such challenges, governments often respond by attempting to shore up ‘traditional’ relationship forms (e.g. marriage) in an attempt to ameliorate the impact of economic crisis upon citizens, given the established link between marriage and health and well-being (Carr & Springer, 2010). This may, paradoxically, include the expansion of the institution of marriage to include same sex couples (Browne, 2011; Denney et al., 2013; Turner, 2008). An alternative and arguably more creative and transformative strategy of resilience to crisis can be seen to emerge at grass roots level with the creative assemblage of new forms of intimate relationship beyond the ‘traditional’ dyadic. Such ‘queer’ acts of relating offer the potential of a more active mode of citizenship where resilience is not simply a passive ‘bouncing back’ when under pressure (Ungar, 2012) but a creative moment in which new possibilities emerge. Polyamorous (relationships involving multiple loving partners), Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans and Queer (LGBTQ) open-relationships of various kinds, along with other ‘queer’ forms of relating (Barker & Langdridge, 2010, 2012), frequently involve creative approaches to living which may provide greater resilience to the stress being experienced as a consequence of the economic crisis and austerity. This may involve anything from a wider array - or differential provision of - emotional, intimate and practical support through multi-partner arrangements, and innovation in caring practices, to increased self-awareness and exposure to wider social networks. By better understanding innovative forms of relating and their relationship with extant state legislation, policy and practice this study has the potential to transform our thinking about what constitutes ‘a resilient relationship’ and gain new insights that may lead to a fundamental transformation of policy and practice in support of resilience amongst all relationships.

 

The specific focus of this study is ‘queer’ youth for whilst there has been much talk of the power of the ‘pink pound’, the reality for many young queer people in the UK is a life lived in precarious circumstances (Nodin et al., 2015). The recession and continuing austerity measures have only exacerbated these problems, including recent government initiatives to reduce and/or remove housing benefit for young people. Younger LGBT+ people are frequently homeless or living in poverty, often without adequate care or social support. And this is all in the context of minority stress and stigma. Resilience is clearly important and this study seeks to explore the ways in which it might be successfully enacted amongst young queer people in precarious economic and housing situations. This proposed study does not work with the simple notion of resilience as bouncing back, however, and instead recognises that we might rethink resilient citizenship by identifying the way that it opens up space for new possibilities, new ways of thinking and acting that provide more inventive and enduring resilient citizenship practices. There is a long tradition of innovation in queer relationship forms and practices (from the open relationships of gay men to the polyamorous relating of contemporary queer life) and this is increasing dramatically with each new generation. We know that marriage offers considerable protection from stressors and the impact of austerity. However, is it possible that modes of relating beyond the dyad may provide greater - or different forms of - resilience to precarity than the traditional marital dyad? That is, is it the case that distributed intimate relating in which social and economic support is spread over a wider social network offers greater protection from the impact of austerity than reliance on a single other person in a relationship? The proposed study intends to find out and, through this focus, it may also provide us with clues about how people in more traditional dyadic relationships might also engage wider social networks and novel caring practices to enhance their resilience to external stressors.