This paper examines the extent to which families living in precariousness in contemporary European cities draw on social support as a key resource in their struggle against poverty. The comparative observations and analysis presented draw on national level survey data as well as local level qualitative data collected in selected European neighbourhoods, under the auspices of the BETWIXT project. 1 More specifically, our analysis focuses on the active modes and mechanisms for requesting and providing solidarity and support at times of familial crisis. The comparison of the Irish and Italian experiences illuminates the persistent involvement of households in informal support provision, even as family structures alter and welfare regimes change. We demonstrate the dynamics underlying the phenomenon of social support among precarious families living in deprived urban areas in the cities of Dublin and Turin. We address the dialectics between agency and structural constraint by examining whether or not family and/or social support networks are reinforced or further weakened by factors such as economic hardship, unemployment, and neighbourhood dereliction. We conclude that the effects of precariousness are multiple and contradictory: precariousness can create anomie and individualisation but it can also act as a spur to greater community cohesion. Such cohesion can also be expressed in terms of heightened social divisions along ethnic lines (the case in Aurora, Turin) and class lines (the case in Kilmainham, Dublin). Â© 2005 Taylor & Francis Group Ltd.