A Dignified Life: How poverty fosters loneliness and how people manage to engage in alternative forms of socialization in an urban landscape

University essay from Lunds universitet/Sociologiska institutionen; Lunds universitet/Socialantropologi

Abstract: Loneliness as a social issue has been gaining extensive interest in recent years, but the subject has lacked results stemming from qualitative research and the link between loneliness and low income has been understudied. This thesis is one minor part in covering these both gaps. I have aimed at using previous quantitative findings on loneliness among low income earners in order to expand on the lived experience on the matter as well as how alternative forms of socialization can help this group engage more in social life. I spent one month at the church S:t Johanneskyrkan (S:t Johannes’ Church) in Gothenburg where I conducted participant observations and interviews with low income earners. The results portrait the experience of involuntary loneliness - how income was an obstacle to engage more in social life, finding a partner and in a few cases even impaired on family relations. The findings also draw a distinction between how the interlocutors experienced loneliness inside S:t Johanneskyrkan in relation to outside of it, in the city of Gothenburg, where they often felt lonely or odd. I have mainly used the concept of sociality to explain how consumption has an important social function in western urbanity and how S:t Johanneskyrkan successfully imitated a normal restaurant in certain aspects which facilitated its visitors to act within the current sociality of consumption. S:t Johanneskyrkan also proved to mitigate involuntary loneliness among my interlocutors in temporary vulnerable situations by providing a continuous place where people could activate themselves more in social life and make new friends without having a particular reason or interest. In the end, it enabled many visitors to live a dignified life.

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