Why is a government administration concerned that providing public housing might encourage arson? Why do elderly choose to move away from their children so as to not receive their support? In this book, contributors explore case studies of social support from South Africa, Portugal, Greece, Russia, India, South Korea, Vietnam, and China. Conceptualizing support as encounters between state institutions and citizens, between aid workers and their clients, and between family members, the essays draw attention to the ways in which the nature and possible consequences of support are variably understood and negotiated. For the first time Ethnographies of Social Support draws attention to the non-purposive background presence of support that comes with living in a shared world.