Ties that mobilise: the relational structure and wellbeing dynamics of collective action

Aked, Jody (2018) Ties that mobilise: the relational structure and wellbeing dynamics of collective action. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Institute of Development Studies.

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This thesis is about how complex change processes requiring collective action happen. Its concern is with connecting the technicalities of change (doing X to influence Y) to the human factors that move people to act. It draws learning from the efforts of a diverse group of volunteers and residents to protect a water ecosystem on a disasterstricken island in the Philippines. It analyses the relational structures and wellbeing dynamics of people’s interactions to bring new insights into the interpersonal experiences that mobilise and sustain collective endeavours.

Despite long-standing interest in the psychology of individual motivation and group dynamics, the integration of these fields to consider the role of motivation in rewarding and adaptive interpersonal interactions is a very recent focus (O’Hara & Rutsch, 2013; Weinstein, 2014). The way individuals approach one another – and the emotional effects of interpersonal interactions on motivation – is not recognised in rational and cognitive conceptualisations of collective action (Hoggett, 2000) in social-ecological systems (Head, 2016; Anderson, 2017). To address this gap, the research is concerned with the existence of social networks, their wellbeing qualities and the interplays which contextualise collective action. The core questions driving this research are:

* How are networks for collective action built and strengthened?

* Which network experiences motivate individuals while building their momentum as a collective?

* What qualities sustain a network of people?

Looking at how volunteering works, when it works, the study examines the social networks of volunteers and the patterns of wellbeing created through network interactions, tracing what possibilities relational structures and the wellbeing dynamics they amplify create for social-ecological systems change.

To accomplish an examination of ‘relationships for change’, I use a participatory methodology informed by system and complexity concepts to illuminate interrelationships between context, experiences and relationships, which helped me and co-participants to understand and build from what works. To accomplish an analysis of the data generated, I integrate two fields of research: social networks with human wellbeing to understand collective action. I also integrate research from natural resource management and volunteering to situate an examination of collective action in a real-world context. Both the data collection and sense-making processes are anchored in a belief that human development and the challenges that stand in its way – climate change, inequality and poverty – are inherently complex phenomena (Ramalingam et al., 2008; Apgar et al., 2009; Marks, 2011; Bellagio Initiative, 2012; Ramalingam, 2013) requiring that we increase our capacity to work with this complexity rather than simplify the way things are (O’Hara & Lyon, 2014).

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: Institute of Development Studies
Research Centres and Groups: Behavioural and Clinical Neuroscience Research Group
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0711 Groups and organisations > HM0716 Social groups. Group dynamics > HM0741 Social networks
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology > HM0831 Social change > HM0836 Causes > HM0866 Collective behavior. Mass behavior
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 09 Apr 2018 11:34
Last Modified: 09 Apr 2018 11:34
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/74842

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