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Social Support Theory: Physical Isolation and Academia with Children

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Academic Mothers Building Online Communities

Abstract

While many new mothers can rely on nearby family and friends upon the arrival of an infant, not all mothers have this type of help. Mothers in academia are one such group, as academics are typically required to move to whatever city has an available job in their field, which often leaves mothers far from conventional familial support. One way that academic mothers have found community and support is through online groups. The types of support examined in this chapter and supported by Online Social Support (OSS) theory include emotional, informational, and tangible. We conducted semi-structured interviews with eight volunteers via online meeting software and used transcriptions to extract ideas, included author experiences, and reviewed literature to explore the application of OSS to mothers in academia with children of a similar age. It was found that online support groups could be sources of emotional, informational, and tangible support to mothers participating in an online group. Thus, we found that mothers who live in isolated geographic locations from their families might benefit from joining an online group with others of similar interests or professions.

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Correspondence to Diane Lally .

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Appendix 1

Appendix 1

  1. 1.

    To get started, could you please introduce yourself? What is your name, where do you currently live, how old are your children?

  2. 2.

    What is your current position? Can you add anything about what your work entails and about your work environment?

  3. 3.

    Would you describe yourself as “isolated” from family in your current location?

  4. 4.

    What was the reason you moved to your current location?

  5. 5.

    Are you a member of any online groups?

  6. 6.

    Out of the online groups in which you are a member, how would you describe your participation? (lurker, active participant, etc.,) Can you give some examples of how you participate?

  7. 7.

    Does being isolated from your family impact your participation in online groups? If so, can you provide some explanation?

  8. 8.

    Do you believe your online participation in academic mothers’ groups to be a source of emotional support to you and others as both a parent and an academic? Can you give some examples of emotional support you have given or received?

  9. 9.

    Do you believe your online participation in academic mothers’ groups to be a source of tangible support to you and others as both a parent and an academic? Can you give some examples of tangible support you have given or received?

  10. 10.

    Do you believe your online participation in academic mothers’ groups to be a source of informational support to you as both a parent and an academic? Can you give some examples of informational support you have given or received?

  11. 11.

    Do you believe your online participation in academic mothers’ groups to be a source of support to you in how you view your own position as both a parent and an academic? Can you give some examples of support that has helped shape how you view your own position that you have given or received?

  12. 12.

    What are some benefits to being in an online parents’ community when you are geographically isolated from family support?

  13. 13.

    Is there any kind of support that you have received from an online community that you do not think you could receive from a physically close, supportive community? (problems where anonymity or physical distance might actually encourage vulnerability/openness)

  14. 14.

    Is there any kind of support that you have been unable to receive from an online community, the lack of which has impacted your health or wellbeing?

  15. 15.

    Is there anything else you would like to share with us today?

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Lally, D., Tanaka, K.M., Bailey Smith, L.A., Gennari, F.F. (2023). Social Support Theory: Physical Isolation and Academia with Children. In: Trocchio, S., Hanasono, L.K., Borchert, J.J., Dwyer, R., Harvie, J.Y. (eds) Academic Mothers Building Online Communities. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-26665-2_14

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-26665-2_14

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  • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

  • Print ISBN: 978-3-031-26664-5

  • Online ISBN: 978-3-031-26665-2

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