• Developing a new conceptual framework of meaningful interaction for understanding social isolation and loneliness

      Wigfield, Andrea; Turner, Royce; Alden, Sarah; Green, Marcus; Karania, Vinal; University of Sheffield; University of Derby; Age UK (Cambridge Journals, 2020-11-24)
      Academic debate about social isolation and loneliness, and their adverse health and well-being implications, has resulted in many policy and programme interventions directed towards reducing both, especially among older people. However, definitions of the two concepts, their measurement, and the relationship between the two are not clearly articulated. This article redresses this and draws on theoretical constructs adapted from symbolic interactionism, together with the Good Relations Measurement Framework, developed for the Equality and Human Rights Commission in the UK, to challenge the way in which social isolation and loneliness are currently understood. It argues for a need to understand experiences of social relationships, particularly those which facilitate meaningful interaction, suggesting that opportunities and barriers to meaningful interaction are determined by wider societal issues. This is set out in a new conceptual framework which can be applied across the life course and facilitates a new discourse for understanding these challenging concepts.