Communicating friendships : a case study of women in an Australian 'seachange' town

Ben Harush, Orit Rivka (2011) Communicating friendships : a case study of women in an Australian 'seachange' town. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


This thesis proposes =friendworks‘ as an important sub-group of social networks, comprised of networks of friends. It investigates friendworks of a particular group of adult Australian women as a way of understanding neglected aspects of social networking practices. Friendworks are contextualised to highlight two main themes of interest: population mobility and communication practices. The impact of relocation on individuals, local communities and the wider society is explored through a case study of female friendworks in a seachange community. Research findings point to the importance of friendworks in building and cohering social and emotional support, well-being, belonging and senses of place and community. Different types of communication methods were used by research participants for mediating different kinds of social ties within the friendworks considered here. Communication patterns were influenced by geographical proximity to friends, and the type of social support required of them (emotional, instrumental or companionship). Most findings were consistent with broader social patterns of communication. For example, face-to-face interactions were the dominant and most favoured communication method between local friends, regardless of whether they were weak or strong ties. The fixed-telephone and the internet were commonly in use to maintain old and geographically distant social ties, while mobile phones were used the least among friends in comparison with other communication methods. The key finding of this thesis is that friendworks are an extremely important solid network in contemporary society, providing mooring relations in a mobile world. Paradoxically, however, for women in this study, the mobile phone, which is popularly perceived as a flexible, multi-purpose communication technology for people on the move, was the least versatile of all technologies for maintaining friendworks. The cost of services was the main inhibitor here. The internet was found to be the most versatile communication technology and was used to support various types of social ties: strong, weak, local and distant. This thesis also highlights the value of the concept of friendworks as well as networks for communication research and policy investigating individuals‘ motivations and practices.

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ID Code: 41494
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Spurgeon, Christina & Andrews, Lynda
Keywords: Friendworks, adult women, Australia, across-media communication, mobility, population mobility, seachange communities, communication use, friends, friendships, face-to-face, fixed-telephone, internet, mobile phone, Byron Shire, social network, social support, spatial proximity, women‘s work
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Creative Industries Faculty
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 28 Apr 2011 06:01
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 20:01

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