Purpose: In this chapter, we develop a concept of social biographies which draws on social network and life course theories to examine how a diverse set of social relationships impacts health of sexual and gender minority (SGM) people over time.
Design/methodology/approach: We provide an overview of several decades of research on SGM people's social relationships, organizing this research within a social biographies framework.
Findings: We theorize about the importance of both the structure and content of SGM people's social networks for health, how these social relationships interact with each other, how these social biographies and their impacts shift across SGM cohorts and over the life course, and how they further are shaped by the intersection of a range of factors (e.g., race/ethnicity, social class).
Social biographies can remain constant or change over time, and relationships of all types and durations have the power to significantly improve or undermine health. This is in part because social ties both buffer and exacerbate the inimical effects of stress on health.
Originality/value: Traditional conceptualizations of relationships fail to reflect the diversity of relationships in SGM lives. Studying this diversity deepens our view of how social biographies influence health and how health inequities between SGM and cisgender and heterosexual (cishet) populations emerge. Studying social biographies of SGM people using theoretical and methodological tools from life course and social network perspectives reveals existing voids in the current literature, enabling researchers to better understand the shifting nature of social relationships in the twenty-first century.
Thomeer, M.B., Reczek, C. and LeBlanc, A.J. (2021), "Social Biographies and Health Among Sexual and Gender Minority People", LeBlanc, A.J. and Perry, B.L. (Ed.) Sexual and Gender Minority Health (Advances in Medical Sociology, Vol. 21), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 135-155. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1057-629020210000021011
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