Virtual policy event – SWAN: Understanding social relationships in Japan and the UK

Date: Wednesday 9 December 2020
Time: 10.00am – 12.00pm GMT (7.00pm – 9.00pm JST)

ILC held a virtual policy event to discuss the findings from the SWAN project (Social relationships and Well-being across Ageing Nations), a research collaboration of UK and Japanese researchers led by UCL, designed to strengthen cross-national partnerships, collaboration, and research related to the broad field of social relationships.

During this virtual policy event, we learned about the project’s findings in more detail from key team members, which provided insight for those considering the intersection of social factors with health and its impact on developing policy.

Speakers included:

  • Dr Noriko Cable, Senior Research Fellow, UCL
  • Prof Tarani Chandola, Professor of Medical Sociology, University of Manchester
  • Dr Urszula Tymoszuk, Research Associate, Royal College of Music

Chair: Dr Brian Beach, Senior Research Fellow, ILC

Survey evidence has shown that social connections play a crucial role in maintaining health in later life. Yet such relationships vary across countries and are shaped by cultural contexts. Survey instruments, even when harmonised, may miss out on some of this nuance. In addition, the nature of social relationships changes over time, and new measures may be useful or needed.

In recognising this, the SWAN team has explored existing datasets and engaged experts and stakeholders in both the UK and Japan to learn more about what needs to happen next. The work highlights:

  • The differences between networks and support, i.e. the structural vs the functional;
  • The measures that exist to capture social connections in different ways;
  • How different groups display varying patterns in their social relationships across key characteristics like gender and culture.

You can see the full recording of the event and download the slides below.