Loneliness, labelled a ‘pandemic’ in the 1990s, ‘The Leprosy’ of the 21st Century in 2018 and described increasingly as a public health problem, has captured the popular and academic attention. It is now considered so widespread that a billion-dollar industry has been developed to meet the needs of those who do not know what to do about their loneliness.
Studies of loneliness suggest a growing social problem. A raft of studies corelating poor physical and mental health have proliferated (Hawkley & Caccioppo, 2010). Higher rates of cancer (Mosher et al., 2012), heart disease (Valtorta et al, 2016), high blood pressure (Hawkley et al, 2010) and early death (Holt-Lunstad, et al 2015) have been associated with loneliness. The COVID-19 crisis provoked further interest in loneliness, with new states such as ‘sudden-onset loneliness’ being described.
However, the very claimed universality of loneliness as well as its supposed dramatic rise provide reason for us to pause, consider and enquire. Loneliness study has been dominated by psychological metrics and a biomedical framework that largely omits nuanced enquiry of the phenomenology of loneliness, its relation to solitude, debate on the political drivers of loneliness, or reference to debates within the psychoanalytic canon in which loneliness forms a core component of key constructs (Willock, 2013). Last but not least, there is also a scarcity of study investigating the intersectionality and socioeconomic drivers of loneliness that pertain to neoliberal economics and austerity regimes.
This call is for papers that question, problematise, broaden and enrich the scope of loneliness study, that bring a psychosocial sensibility to bear on loneliness – as neither simply a state of mind, nor only a function of social conditions. We seek abstracts, in the first instance, for this special edition. Both empirical and theoretical papers are welcome, and as well as psychosocial contributions we encourage submissions from fields such as the medical humanities; arts and cultural studies; public sociology; phenomenology.
Interested contributors should:
Send an abstract of no more than 300 words to email@example.com before Friday 10th June 2002. We can accept formal research papers or ‘open space articles’ (less formal articles, that might be based on personal experiences and reflections). The abstract should make clear what type of paper you hope to submit. You will be informed within one month of receipt whether we invite the full submission. Interested contributors are welcome to contact us with queries.
Special Edition Editors
Olivia Sagan: Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh (OSagan@qmu.ac.uk)
David W Jones: Open University, UK (David.Jones@open.ac.uk)
Elizabeth Frost: University of West of England (Elizabeth.Frost@uwe.ac.uk)
There are more details about the journal here: