Browsing by Subject "holistic"

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  • Mankinen, Katariina (Helsingin yliopisto, 2020)
    This thesis explores social representations of nature and happiness in nature among Finnish youth. Even though the concepts of happiness and nature are common in daily exchanges, they remain difficult to define, and little is known of their usage among laypeople. Similarly, nature’s effects on well-being are well documented, but how happiness occurs in nature has not been examined through social representations. Finland is an interesting country to study these phenomena, as Finland is often portrayed through its unique nature, and has been ranked as the happiest country in the world for three consecutive years. The purpose of this thesis is to examine how Finnish youth discuss happiness in nature, and whether there are distinctive shared social representations. The study used Moscovici’s Social Representations Theory as a theoretical framework. The theory’s purpose is to explore laypeople’s conceptions of everyday phenomena, making it suitable for this research. The research was part of a bigger LUODE-project, funded by the European Social Fund. LUODE aims to develop multidisciplinary collaboration and service innovations for youth. University of Helsinki’s role was to better understand the everyday lives of the youth and this research contributes to the latter aim. The participants consisted of 15-16-year-old Lahti 9th graders (n=355). They first saw a marketing video of Finland aimed at foreign visitors, in which the main theme was the experience of happiness in nature. They were then asked to write their responses to a paper questionnaire, with questions like “What does the video say about happiness in your opinion? Discuss, whether nature makes you happy? Why yes? Why not?”. Responses varied in length from one word to lists, and from sarcastic comments to personal, even poetic, descriptions of happiness in nature. This research will focus on their personal accounts, and when combined, these created shared social representations. The research questions were: What are the shared ideas the youth have about nature, and of happiness in nature? How are these social representations objectified or anchored? Do the youth have shared social representations about nature, and more specifically about happiness in nature? As a result of the research questions, the analysis identified two main themes. First, nature was defined through shared lay perceptions, and nature in the societal context of Finland. It was clear that there was not just one simplistic definition of nature among the youth. Instead, their descriptions varied from common objectifications of nature, like cleanliness, forests, and summer cabins, to societal issues including the national welfare system, and global issues like climate change. Second, happiness in nature was experienced in a holistic manner: nature was a place for peace of mind, for activities, and for sensory engagement. These representations of happiness revealed holistic, and multisensory experiences of happiness when spending time in nature. The results show that Finnish youth go to nature to relax, be active, and be mindful and that their experiences in nature involve multisensory approaches, which all contributed to their experiences of happiness. Multisensory experiences as social representations may offer new insights for future research. These representations explicate how detailed and varying the everyday terms of happiness and nature are. Nature served as an important milieu for daily moments of happiness among the youth. Finnish youth also criticized the claims in the video and discussed the influence of the Finnish welfare system as well as climate change in their responses. The current study proposes that these holistic and multisensory methods to experience happiness in nature should be taken into account when planning well-being interventions, city planning, and nature preservation.