Loneliness among students as a consequence of modernity

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Eline Wittenwiler Liafi
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)

This thesis contains a qualitative study of loneliness among students, in the light of modernity's contradictory complexities.

The study has been done, in the light of an increased focus concerning loneliness among students, in the media as well as in the prominent liberal, political media debate about youth unemployment, education and the economy in society. Each individual has got the responsibility for its own happiness, and security of the future is to be found in the subject itself. The public assistance system, in this sense, only provide assistance to those in most need and does not have the ”safety net” qualities for various social problems.

This coupling of an inner subjective experience, such as the feeling of loneliness and of objective troubled community framework, form the background for the study field of this thesis. In the thesis, both the psychological, historical, cultural, structural and political trends will be included in what might explain why loneliness among students occurs.

The problem formulation is - in addition to uncover the background in a number of students having problems with loneliness - designed to examine the implications it may have for the students to feel lonely and what kinds of aid they might need.

The study is based on collected empirical data, which is made from interviews with eight informants. The informants have either experienced loneliness themselves, as a student, or have dealt with loneliness through research or through voluntary work.

According to the task main theorists Anthony Giddens and Thomas Ziehe, is modernity's complexities in a liberating aim in relation to the possibility of taking freely chosen lifestyles and forms of identity for themselves while being this freedom in modernity to an all-encompassing collective claim that attacks the individual's areas of life and individual inner structures and self-identity.
In other words, modernity leads to trends that are oppressive, standardizing and moralizing for individual expression, autonomy and freedom to just be. These contradictory complexities of freedom and claims will be seen in relation to students' feelings of loneliness.

The study will alternate between sociological and psychodynamic theory, which can explain loneliness among students from both external and internal structures.

The main finding of this thesis is a characteristic of loneliness while studying. The characteristics are based on the feeling of having to perform, compete and be the maker of your own personal success. This challenges the individual's sense of community and self- critical sense and can leave the individual with a sense of inadequacy, which can lead to isolation and loneliness. Additionally a study that concerns the background of loneliness from empirical findings on the basis of individual psychodynamic basic feelings and from the given university as an institutional structural frame that affects the individual, have been used. This thesis will furthermore have a study of the standards and expectations among students, as the background for solitude and examines how political and ideological changes through time, have changed people's behaviour and actions towards each other, which is interpreted as a cause of loneliness. At the end of the analysis, consequences of loneliness are gathered and illustrated in a model whereby the need for support are discussed and held up against modernity barriers, compared to how the need for support is met.

This study should be seen as an illustration of a known but still ”young” social problem in terms of science and research. This illustration should be used to provide information about modernity vulnerability creative tendencies of the individual's sense of social, emotional and existential loneliness.

Publication date22 Nov 2013
Number of pages147
ID: 141642718