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Doctoral dissertations of social informatics

You are invited to read the abstracts of the PhD theses of Dr Sara Atanasova and Natalija Rebrica. 

Natalija Rebrica has a Master's degree in Marketing Communication and Public Relations and a PhD student of Social Informatics, currently working as a young researcher at the Centre for Social Informatics.

Dissertation abstract:

The awareness factors of smart technologies for independent living at home among individuals in an aging society 

Globally, the number of older adults is growing faster than the number of people in any other age group (United Nations, 2020). In view of the aging population and the related longevity challenges, it is important to empower older adults to live independently as much as possible. One potentially enabling strategy for enhancing later life are smart technologies for independent living at home (STILH), and awareness is one of the key factors in adopting STILH. 

But, a significant gap exists in the literature on the factors influencing the awareness of STILH. Although the limited qualitative research provides some insights into the processes that could be associated with factors of awareness (e.g. source of information; Woodcock et al., 2013), there is a significant lack of quantitative research providing a comprehensive conceptual and empirical elaboration of the relationships between different STILH awareness factors. Therefore, the overall aim of the dissertation is to focus on developing and validating an integrative conceptual model that explains the factors and extent of awareness level of STILH among older adults.  

The theoretical part of dissertation will serve as a basis for the development of a conceptual model in which different awareness factors will be integrated. We will proceed from innovation diffusion theory (e.g. Rogers, 2003), models of communication effects (e.g. Lavidge and Steiner, 1961) and models of consumer behaviour (e.g. Kotler, 1994) in order to define potential factors of awareness. All three categories of models with their specifics related to the awareness can be integrated in a way of four-step communication process, i. e. communication models (e.g. Lasswell, 1971). Deriving from theory, older adults will be researched as heterogenous group with specific characteristics in terms of consumer behaviour (e.g. Moschis, 2012), technology use (e.g. Wallace et al., 2013) and life-stage perspective (e.g. Neugarten, 1990). In the empirical part, the proposed conceptual model will be tested on data collected with a survey questionnaire on a large-scale sample. Before the main study, a qualitative study will be used to develop survey inventories followed by a small-scale pilot study in which the research design will be validated (survey administration, sample recruitment strategies, scale validation, etc.). Then, the revised questionnaire will be used to collect data on a nationwide representative sample of individuals (50+ years) in Slovenia. To test the proposed model, the questionnaire will refer to a selected e-care service that is one of the few STILH currently available and marketed in Slovenia. 

Sara Atanasova, PhD, is a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Methodology and Informatics. Her research interests include the study of online health communities, theories of empowerment, and the application of qualitative and quantitative methods in the field of information society. 

Dissertation abstract:

Socio-structural properties and psychological empowerment in health-related online support communities 

This doctoral dissertation investigated the impact of socio-structural properties of health-related online support communities (HROSCs) on interpersonal and interactional dimensions of users' psychological empowerment. Dissertation's research is based on development of theoretical framework for conceptualization of socio-structural properties with integration of Giddens’ structuration theory, Bourdieu’s theory of capital, empowering community setting theory, the theory of managing common resources in online communities, and the theory of implicit and explicit norms, which was applied to the context of HROSCs. With innovative theoretical framework and empirical research that was based on complementary mixed-methods research design, this doctoral dissertation demonstrated how crucial it is to understand that there is a mutual interrelation between HROSC users’ social practices and the specific structural properties of HROSCs, and how the processes involved might present opportunities and constraints for the development of users’ psychological empowerment. 

Doctoral programme of Social Sciences Methodology

Doctoral programme of Social Informatics

Back to list of notificationsPublished: 06. July 2022 | Category: Notifications