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Social Isolation: A conceptual and Measurement Proposal

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  • Diego Zavaleta
  • Kim Samuel
  • China Mills

Abstract

Social isolation is a deprivation of social connectedness. It is a crucial aspect that continues to be named by people as a core impediment for achieving well-being and as a relevant factor for understanding poverty. The notion of social isolation has been discussed within a diversity of theories that have provided rich insights into particular aspects of social isolation. However, there is no agreement on the core components of this social malady or on how to measure it. Although the challenge of conceptualising and measuring social connectedness is daunting, this paper argues that existing research in several fields provides solid ground for a common concept and for the construction of basic internationally comparable indicators that measure specific aspects of social isolation. In particular, this paper aims to contribute to the debate on social connectedness and its measurement in three ways: (1) presenting a working definition that, while doing justice to the rich insights advanced by different theories, stresses relational features in the life experience of people; (2) emphasising the relevance of isolation for poverty analysis; and (3) proposing some indicators to measure social connectedness that could be feasibly incorporated into a multi-topic household survey.

Suggested Citation

  • Diego Zavaleta & Kim Samuel & China Mills, 2014. "Social Isolation: A conceptual and Measurement Proposal," OPHI Working Papers 67, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
  • Handle: RePEc:qeh:ophiwp:ophiwp067
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    File URL: https://ophi.org.uk/social-isolation-a-conceptual-and-measurement-proposal/
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Marcel Fafchamps, 2004. "Social Capital and Development," Economics Series Working Papers 214, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
    2. William Easterly & Jozef Ritzen & Michael Woolcock, 2006. "Social Cohesion, Institutions, And Growth," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 18(2), pages 103-120, July.
    3. Kathleen A. Cagney & Thomas A. Glass & Kimberly A. Skarupski & Lisa L. Barnes & Brian S. Schwartz & Carlos F. Mendes de Leon, 2009. "Neighborhood-Level Cohesion and Disorder: Measurement and Validation in Two Older Adult Urban Populations," Journals of Gerontology: Series B, Gerontological Society of America, vol. 64(3), pages 415-424.
    4. Bearman, P.S. & Moody, J., 2004. "Suicide and Friendships among American Adolescents," American Journal of Public Health, American Public Health Association, vol. 94(1), pages 89-95.
    5. Tony Castleman, 2013. "Human Recognition and Economic Development: An Introduction and Theoretical Model," OPHI Working Papers 63, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.
    6. Durlauf, Steven N. & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2005. "Social Capital," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 26, pages 1639-1699, Elsevier.
    7. Durlauf, Steven N. & Fafchamps, Marcel, 2005. "Social Capital," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 26, pages 1639-1699 Elsevier.
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    Cited by:

    1. Hoffmann, Nimi & Metz, Thaddeus, 2017. "What Can the Capabilities Approach Learn from an Ubuntu Ethic? A Relational Approach to Development Theory," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 153-164.
    2. Diego Zavaleta & Kim Samuel & China T. Mills, 2017. "Measures of Social Isolation," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 131(1), pages 367-391, March.
    3. Andrea Wigfield & Sarah Alden, 2018. "Assessing the Effectiveness of Social Indices to Measure the Prevalence of Social Isolation in Neighbourhoods: A Qualitative Sense Check of an Index in a Northern English City," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 140(3), pages 1017-1034, December.
    4. Basa-Martinez, Diana Denise F. & Cabrera, Janet Y. & Dionaldo, LA G. & Orillo, Jonathan Gavino R. & Ramos, Paul John M. & Ocampo, Lanndon A., 2018. "An exploration of a respondent pre-qualifying framework to increase response rates in social media initiated online surveys," Australasian marketing journal, Elsevier, vol. 26(3), pages 239-261.
    5. China Mills & Diego Zavaleta & Kim Samuel, 2014. "Shame, Humiliation and Social Isolation: Missing Dimensions of Poverty and Suffering Analysis," OPHI Working Papers 71, Queen Elizabeth House, University of Oxford.

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