The structural changes impact all of our communities. Structural changes in the community increasing loneliness include community breakdown, fall in religion, closure of night classes, commercialisation, and decline of social clubs.
A generation ago, there was a much stronger sense of community. In New Zealand houses were left unlocked, kids roamed freely around the neighbourhood, and more time was spent socialising with others – rather than, say, shopping. Today, with less of a community spirit, there is less opportunity to form meaningful relationships in the community – increasing the risk of loneliness.
A generation ago, religion had a much stronger grip on New Zealanders. Many families would go to church on Sunday, where they would chat with the fellow members of the congregation before and after the service. Furthermore, they could pitch in to help the church – in various ways. Today, the role of the church as a social institution has diminished. With it, there is less opportunity to form meaningful relationships – increasing the risk of loneliness.
Night classes provided opportunities for New Zealanders to learn new skills, and socially connect. In 2009, the budget for night classes was slashed resulting in their closure. With the closure of night classes, another opportunity for meaningful relationships was lost – increasing the risk of loneliness.
Society has become increasingly commercial. Whereas in earlier generations, people made do with what they had – in today’s society, many social activities with family and friends cost money. For those poor members of the group, they can become financially isolated – increasing the risk of loneliness.
With people busier, the rise of personal entertainment, and the rise of shopping as a past-time, memberships of social clubs has fallen – resulting in fall in the number of social clubs. With less participation by society in social clubs, there is a greater risk of loneliness.
To explore other societal drivers of loneliness, please click the coloured box of interest.