Wright-Bevans, Katie (2017) Intergenerational practice and social change: exploring social representations in text, talk and action. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Intergenerational practice (IP) is an increasingly popular community development tool which brings younger and older people together to participate in mutually beneficial activities. It aims to reduce negative attitudes and promote community cohesion. Previous research has examined the benefits of IP though much of this has focused on its potential to increase positive attitudes (and other individual level outcomes). In doing so, previous research has neglected broader social issues, the social nature of social change and the broader community and societal context within which IP takes place. As a result little was known about how IP works and its capacity for micro, meso and macro level social change.

Within a social constructionist frame, this thesis argued that to understand the relationship between IP and social change, the role of different social agents in its production needed to be explored more critically. Social representations theory and mixed qualitative methods were used to explore how different social representations were engaged with, circulated or resisted in text, talk and action. Three studies examined practice guidelines, community facilitators and an intergenerational initiative. The latter study adopted an action research framework and aimed to both promote positive social change as well as explore the nature of this change. Mixed traditional and creative qualitative data were collected and analysed through thematic analysis.

Findings revealed two competing systems of knowledge underpinned by themata individualism/collectivism and us/them. On the one hand, IP was characterised as an intervention targeted at problem individuals. On the other hand, IP was understood as a tool for collective action towards wider social issues. Between the push and pull of these systems of knowledge, IP was actualised in a middle ground, as a community mobilisation tool with the potential to foster community cohesion through the empowerment of older and younger people.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Natural Sciences > School of Psychology
Contributors: Murray, MP (Thesis advisor)
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2017 09:46
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2020 15:21
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/3559

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