Most social network studies following Granovetter’s (1985) vision of embeddedness have either focused on instrumental relations or lumped instrumentality and sentimentality together. This study seeks to clarify whether social relations that primarily build on sentimentality can impact economic action. Based on the context of Chinese market transition, this paper found that general managers that had affection-based social circles, that is, small groups in which people enjoy being together, were more likely to start a private firm after being laid off. In contrast, business-based social circles, defined as small groups mainly formed on business interests, did not have a significant interactive effect with layoff. These findings are consistent with the argument that affection-based social circles help managers experiencing job loss maintain a stable and positive self-identity, and that these circles also exert less constraint over radical career change.