Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

Strengthening Social Ties While Walking the Neighbourhood?

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Abstract:  Social connectedness among neighbours impacts health and well-being, especially during stressful life events like a pandemic. An activity such as neighbourhood walking enables urban inhabitants to engage in incidental sociability and acts of “neighbouring”—that is, authentic social interactions with neighbours—to potentially bolster the social fabric of neighbourhoods and strengthen relationships. With the potential of neighbourhood walking in mind, this article investigates how everyday encounters while engaged in routine neighbourhood walks strengthen and/or weaken social ties among neighbours. To this end, the article draws on three sources of qualitative data from neighbourhood walkers in Southwestern Ontario, Canada: (a) “walking diaries” in which participants took note of their walking routes, the people they observed on their walks, and other details of their walking experiences; (b) maps of their neighbourhoods that outlined the boundaries of their self-identified neighbourhoods, their routine walking routes, and the people they recognized during their neighbourhood walks; and (c) one-on-one interviews during which participants provided crucial context and meaning to the maps and their walking experiences. The findings provide evidence of how interactions among inhabitants, while engaged in neighbourhood walking, help generate greater social connectedness.

Keywords:  belonging; imagined community; neighbourliness; qualitative research

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v8i4.6424


© Troy D. Glover, Luke Moyer, Joe Todd, Taryn Graham. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.