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Title: Social connection in the city : representations and motivations
Author: Zeeb, Victoria Sophia
ISNI:       0000 0004 7659 8811
Awarding Body: UCL (University College London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2018
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A longstanding sociological tradition conceives of city life as profoundly alienating and insular (Durkheim, 1897; Simmel, 1903). As UK cities continue to grow this could be detrimental for city dwellers as a vast amount of evidence underpins the notion that connecting with others is crucial for wellbeing (Aked, 2011). Although the link between social connectedness and wellbeing is well established, less is known about how connecting with different types of social ties is represented by lay people and what motivates this desire to connect. Using Social Representations Theory and Mattering theory, the aim is to examine the content and the underlying structure that shapes common-sense thinking about social connectedness in the contemporary British city and understand the social psychological complexities that shape motivations for connecting with others. To do this, three studies were conducted using the Grid Elaboration Method (GEM) (Joffe and Elsey, 2014), a novel free association and interview technique. All studies were conducted in Britain's two largest cities, London and Birmingham. In Study 1, city-dwellers' aspirations were examined to look at the importance of social connectedness compared to other aspirations. Thematic analysis of 96 interviews revealed that social connectedness is the most prevalent aspiration and includes connection with 'strong ties', such as friends and family, and 'weak ties', such as strangers and acquaintances at work, in the community and the city at-large. In Study 2 and Study 3, a deeper exploration of connectedness with friends and weak ties was conducted. Building on the first study, thematic analysis of the interviews from 52 city dwellers revealed that thinking about social connection is shaped by the 'self/other' thema, is motivated by a desire to 'matter' and shaped by city contextual factors such as time and technology. This work makes a unique contribution to the study of social connectedness in the city and could be applied to create more effective wellbeing interventions and policies.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available