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The essence of social support in interpersonal communication

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The amount of social support literature in the field of interpersonal communication has increased steadily. In the last decade, however, no one has pushed for a conclusion as to what kind of phenomenon social support is. This article aims to describe the essence of social support. The essence is what must be present in all the phenomena that claim to be social support. The study uses phenomenological reduction and imag┬Činative variation (1) on social support definitions and (2) on the empirical material of support in men’s friendships. The synthesis of the two sets of material deduces the essence of social support both theoretically and empirically. According to the phenomenological reduction the essence of social support is the awareness of a real or potential void in a person’s life experience, and of otherness that intends to alter that experience to achieve wholeness. Supportive communication is the manifestation of the essence of social support in interpersonal relationships.
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Keywords: essence; interpersonal relationships; phenomenology; social support; supportive communication

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Tampere

Publication date: May 21, 2012

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  • Empedocles aims to provide a publication and discussion platform for those working at the interface of philosophy and the study of communication, in all its aspects. This Journal is published in cooperation with the Section for the Philosophy of Communication of ECREA, the European Communication Reserach and Education Association.
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