Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Monday, June 9, 2008

State Interest in Nonmarital Friendship Relationships

With respect to the conversation initiated by Rob's post on Friends with Benefits, my colleague Elizabeth Brown suggests that part of the reason the state may choose to recognize such relationships "may be because the type of benefits that society gains are not tied to only very limited forms of relations (e.g., marriage, sexually-oriented relationships)."  She states:

"Businesses and the federal and state governments, which provide healthcare to individuals, already have a financial incentive to promotion friendship and other social relationships.  Research shows that not staying connected to other people through friendships and other relationships poses the same risk to your health as high blood pressure, obesity and even smoking. As staggering as that is, a trend toward smaller social networks and fewer close confidants is growing. 'More Americans in the last 20 years say that they have fewer close friends or people in their lives with whom they can discuss important matters,' says Duke University sociologist Lynn Smith-Lovin. 'What ties to a close-knit group of people does is create a safety net,' she adds.

"Doctors agree, and say that a good chat or regular girls' night out can do even more. 'Feeling cared for and supported within a social network is particularly important for women in fostering self-care,' says Todd Jackson, PhD, author of a study published this year linking high levels of social support and community involvement with healthier diet, exercise and sleep habits, among other positive effects.  As a result, people who enjoy high levels of social support would cost businesses and federal and state government less money than those who fail to form and maintain such relationships. 

"These benefits are not connected solely with marriage or sexual relationships.  If society benefits from the formation of these social networks, then it has an interest in promoting them and preventing their current decline."


Stabile, Susan | Permalink

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