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Title: Designing for Disconnection : long-distance Family Relationships in a South Korean Context
Authors: Hwang, Euijin
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This PhD thesis aims to understand communication in long-distance relationships (LDRs) in the context of South Korean culture and define the value of disconnection in communication. I have situated this work within the South Korean context due to the prioritisation of the family unit in Korean culture and the additional demands this can cause for family members. I have conducted a design-led, experience-centred research to develop a rich understanding of the communication practices and the value of disconnection to support healthy family relationships between South Korean international students in the UK and their parents in their home country. I have done this through three interrelated research steps. Firstly, I ran two exploratory studies consisting of in-depth diaries and extended interviews. These provided a rich understanding of LDRs between Korean students and their parents, the challenges they face, and the communication strategies they use to maintain those relationships. The studies surfaced many students feel a duty to always be in contact with their parents and are trying to find ways to respectfully disconnect so that they can focus on their academic performance and adjusting to life in the UK. I then designed an experiential prototype, Silent Knock, to explore how technology might be designed to support it. Lastly, the system was deployed with geographically separated families between the UK and South Korea, exploring its role in reducing the communication pressure that the students feel while reassuring their parents that they are still thinking of them. I identified that intended disconnection may have a positive impact on alleviating communicational tensions between individuals and developing new channels for healthy LDRs. This research makes four significant research contributions: (i) it provides a rich account of the lived experiences of South Korean family, highlighting a series of tensions in their LDRs. (ii) it presents a concept of Respectful Disconnection, which supports intended disconnection (or limitation) in communication to form healthy patterns of LDRs within a South Korean context. (iii) it proposes disconnection as an important component when designing future relationship-based technology, with Silent Knock as an implementation example. (iv) it details the sketching interviewing method, Sketching Dialogue, which was used in the extended interview study, to support participant’s engagement in the research, especially participants from more reserved cultures.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Computing Science

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