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Browsing by Subject "walking."

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  • Rautio, Sanna (2022)
    Social and urban scholars have long been concerned with questions of how unknown others encounter and relate to one another in the city. Stranger encounters can happen spontaneously and serendipitously, for example, at bus stops, in trains or on park benches, often viewed as “chance” encounters. Other stranger encounters are carefully planned, for example, by using digital technology including online social networks, websites, and digital platforms. Today, digital platforms are reshaping the way we relate with strangers, yet there is little research on how stranger encounters are reconfigured by practices mediated through digital platforms. Against this background, the thesis attempts to address this research gap: stranger encounters mediated by two location-based digital platforms for social networking in Helsinki. The thesis focuses on two Finnish digital platforms for social networking, Nappi Naapuri and Commu, which are based around neighbourhood and community interactions. Both platforms lower the threshold of communication between strangers which have the potential to help eliminate loneliness, stress, and promote a sense of community. The thesis analyses planned encounters when meeting with other platform users to better understand what types of stranger encounters are emerging from digital platforms. Rather than focusing on the figure of the stranger as ‘other,’ the thesis examines digitally mediated practices whereby stranger encounters are valued and actively pursued by platform users. Through fieldwork encounters with strangers in Helsinki, the thesis analyses six stranger encounter vignettes to argue that by practicing an open and generous attitude towards unknown others can allow for moments of sociable curiosity, escapism, and intimacy to emerge between strangers. Using multiple methodologies including, autoethnography, walking with participants, participant observation and interviews, the thesis aims to better understand the role digital platforms can play in increasing stranger encounters in the city and how they have the potential to bring different people together to learn from one another and work on manners of cohabitation.