Loneliness NZ

Societal drivers of loneliness

Loneliness may be a characteristic of society (Morrison and Smith 2017). Whilst we each feel loneliness individually, loneliness relates to a lack of meaningful social connections.  Our ability to form meaningful social connections is affected by the social networks that are available in society.  Over the last four decades there have been significant, and largely simultaneous, changes in society that, we believe, are contributing to increased feelings of loneliness within the New Zealand population.  These changes can be classified into:

  • Global trends;
  • Rise of digital technology;
  • Structural changes in the community;
  • Structural changes in the workforce;
  • Fragmentation of the family; and
  • Other societal changes.

While some of the changes will have positive aspects for society and individuals, they also have negative impacts on relationships, social skills and social wellbeing that increase loneliness across the New Zealand population.

Delving deeper

To learn more about the societal drivers of loneliness, please click the coloured box of interest. Please note that the societal drivers of loneliness are our view (or hypothesis), which may not have yet been supported by academic research.

The societal drivers of loneliness do not absolve individuals from addressing their own individual feelings of loneliness.

Morrison, Philip and Rebekah Smith (2017): “Loneliness: An overview”, in Olivia Sagan and Eric Miller (eds.)(2017): Narratives of loneliness: Multidisciplinary perspectives from the 21st century, ch. 1, p. 11-25, Sept.