Social Relationships in the Network Society
This research project is funded by FORTE, The Swedish Research Council for Health, Working Life and Welfare, and is based at the Department of Sociology, Stockholm University. The project investigates the changing opportunities that digital technology offers for family social life.
Principal investigator: Lina Eklund, PhD, Department of Sociology, Stockholm University.
The Network Society is an expression aiming to explain how our lives today are affected by new digital technologies. In the network society, researchers agree that a number of changes have occurred in how society is organized. Globalization, individualization, and freer markets are some examples of processes that together with internet and digital technologies have allowed these changes. Yet, we still do not understand what these developments mean for our everyday lives. This project aims to increase our understanding of social interaction in a network society with a particular focus on relationships between family members and close friends. The network society offers new ways to interact, yet also affects our previous interaction patterns. Research has shown how the Internet and digital technologies allow the creation of relationships with strangers, while less emphasis has been placed on discussing the fact that people are increasingly using this technology for contact with family and close friends.
The project will examine how digital technology hinders or supports relationships with family and close friends by combining Swedish survey data and interviews with Swedish users/non-users of digital technology. Three areas are in focus 1) The relationship between online/offline in social interaction 2) Different opportunities and responsibilities for men and women in the maintenance of family ties with the help of digital technology 3) The constraints and opportunities for social relationships and interaction that digital technology allows. The project aims to understand how individuals of different ages maintain close social ties over the Internet and other digital technologies and how users/non-users perceive the relationship between digital technology and interaction with significant others. The project strives for a theoretical and empirical platform for the analysis of the impact of technology and new forms of interaction in the context of digital media.