Presentations from the Research and Policy Forum Meeting on 25 April 2017

On 25 April, the Campaign to End Loneliness Research and Policy Forum meeting was held at UCL. There were three presenters who have worked on kindness and social ties. Below are abstracts from their presentations and links to the presentations themselves.

Changing Social Ties: Community, Family and Friendship in a Digital Age

Deborah Chambers, Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, Newcastle University

Social and personal ties are undergoing significant changes in western societies, provoking public anxieties that traditional associations of family, neighbourhood and community are fragmenting. It is in this context of social change that care, responsibility and acts of kindness are redefined, articulated, and conveyed.  This paper draws together aspects of debates from two books I wrote, News Social Ties (2006) and Social Media and Personal Relationships (2013) to address changing social ties and values that underpin the work of the Campaign to End Loneliness and current issues relating to care and kindness.

Link to Deborah’s presentation

Liveable Lives: Making the links between small acts of kindness and loneliness

Simon Anderson, Social Research consultant, Simon Anderson Consulting and Julie Brownlie, University of Edinburgh

Drawing on work from the Joseph Rowntree founded project, Liveable Lives, Simon presented findings that related kindness and loneliness. Some of the key findings include:

  • Noticing: the challenge of researching topics that are both mundane and highly significant
  • Not so random acts: seeing kindness as a social issue
  • Affective risk, and why there are more helpers than ‘helpees’
  • You can’t legislate for kindness, or why this issue can’t be addressed head on

Link to Simon’s presentation

Talking to Strangers: Why you don’t do it, and why you should

Gillian Sandstrom, Lecturer in Social Psychology at the University of Essex

My favourite stories are the ones where all the characters/storylines turn out to be connected in unforeseen ways. These stories seem more and more plausible in our increasingly connected world. Despite this, we now live in a culture of disconnection: People find it hard to make friends, and suffer emotionally and physically from a lack of belonging. My research addresses this apparent contradiction by focusing at the micro level, examining how seemingly insignificant social interactions with strangers can influence and improve well-being. In this talk, I focus on two research questions: (1) What benefits do people get from talking to strangers? (2) What prevents people from talking to strangers more often? I conclude by exploring how to encourage more conversations.

Link to Gillian’s presentation