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                            Evans G. W. Wells N.M. Moch A. (2003) Journal of Social Issues, Vol. 59, No. 3, 2003, pp. 475--500 Housing and Mental Health: A Review of the Evidence and a Methodological and Conceptual Critique.
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Document Text Contents
Page 1

Master Thesis

Exploring Wellbeing in Small

and Unconventional Dwellings

Understanding living in small and unconventional dwellings through a multi-
dimensional perspective of space.

Page 2


There are several people behind making this thesis happen that are worth a special thank you.

First of all, I want to thank my tutor Lena Olaison at Linneaus University for her comitment

and engagement throughout the whole thesis process; the many skype sessions, and the long

and interesting meetings. Her insights in the field have meant a lot for the realisation of this

thesis. Her valuable feedback and excellent analytical input have been significant, thank you!

Next, I want to thank the people involved at IKEA, who have shown great interest in the

realisation of this thesis. In particular I want to give a big thank you to Anne JM Norman for

all of our interresting conversations influencing the direction of this study.

I also want to thank all of the dwellers I interviewed, who invited me to their homes and

opened up for really interesting conversations and insights.

Finally, I want to show my gratitude to this Masters programme in Innovation through

Business, Engineering and Design, that through its interdisciplinary approach has made me

reach new hights of knowledge and experiences. Thank you to all the professors, tutors,

coordinators, and to my multidisciplinary classmates!

Elias Gentili

Linneaus University, Växjö

May, 2017


Page 50

much, the interview guide did have some influence from theory. But important to note, it was

mainly done as a framwork of content and different perspectives to be covered as an eye

opener, than anything else. It was not in any way meant to test previous research, but rather

conveying and adopting radical openness to the vast possibilities of viewpoints and feelings

related to their experienced wellbeing living as they do. This was done keeping in mind the

explorative nature of the research, and the methodological strategies to find relevant themes

and concepts relating to wellbeing as a result of their dwelling solution. Gioia et al (2012)

stresses the importance of neglecting previous research at the time of the data collection, in

order to be open and allowing for new themes to surge; that acknowledging previous research

at the time of data collection might put the researcher in a restricted, biased position.

Therefore, digging too deep into previous research was avoided prior to the data collection,

and what I already had read was only kept with large distance during the interviews in order

to accommodate for the openness. The openess in combination with previously mentioned

points regarding process of the inteviews, meant that much flexibility was adopted with

regards to following the interview guide.

3.6.2 Observations

Observations in research mean to monitor and absorb the surrounding with senses, where

related to the research, and report for the porpose of the scientific research (Creswell, 2013).

Alvesson and Sköldberg (2009) argue that observations allow for the researcher first hand

experiences which adds another perspective than what only interviews can give. Ghauri and

Grønhaug (2010), suggest that observations are beneficial in order to collect original data, and

allows for doing this in a natural, and for the research relevant setting. Observations are

especially useful when the research aims to obtain a wider understanding of who are being

interviewed and their situations, as it adds a layer of information that Interviews might

struggle to reach with accuracy (Ghauri & Grønhaug, 2010).

Observations have been carried out when doing the interviews with the people living in small

spaces to capture unspoken content and to understand actions and feelings related to their

space. The observations have served to provide contextualization; for a better understanding

of what they are speaking about in the interviews, and for me to get an impression, bringing

me closer to the study subject; the interviewee, and study object; their dwelling. The


Page 51

observations do not only serve me as the present interviewer to understand the interviewee

better, but also for the study as a whole. Being clear and transparent with the observations

captured, the reader of this study have better chances to understand what is being discussed,

how it has been interpreted and therefore also how it might have influenced the results. The

observations help to root what is being studied to a context which thus add another dimension

of data beyond just the spoken word.

Observations have been carried out as following:

What has been observed Implication Example

Looking at their spaces,

taking in sensory

experiences of

dimensions, colours,

shapes, light, smells,

vibrations, movements,

tactile feelings etc.

This has mainly fed

different new or situation

related questions for the

interview which is based on

something that is actually

happening and that might

be affecting the dweller.

For example when interviewing the

boat dweller, the different suddent

movements and sounds by the water

that I felt, contributed then to asking

some questions about that, and hence

providing a greater understanding of

the living conditions.
Table 2: Observations

What has been observed Implication Example

Looking at the dweller

and his/her habits,

movements, bodily and


expressions etc.

This was done being

present in the spaces of the

dwellers, and helped

understanding better the

reality from the

interviewee's point of view.

For example when visiting one of the

dwellers on a cold day, we sat outside

preparing food and then eating, and

he seemed to enjoy so much being

outside in nature and didint seem to

mind the cold much at all.
Table 3: Observations

3.6.3 Critically assessing my own influence to the study

In my study, my own background has been influencing the study. Doing research it is not

possible to be fully objective, so I outline here how my subjectivity has affected the study. To

start with, all people have their learnings, their opinions, and their perceptions of reality. So

do I. To understand where I come from, I have for a long time had a big interest in

architecture and design, especially related to small buildings. I have been following the


Page 100

(how much it costs?)


First order Category Second order themes Concepts

Be where I want to be
I can change the view of my window every day
No confinement in a flat
Can put my house by a calm lake when I want to be alone
Can be neighbour to where the party is happening

Thought of going out to the archipelago when I want
The dream vision of the tent I bought as a child


I can feel the sound of the rain on my roof.
I feel the weather much more
I can hear the birds picking on my roof.
I can feel the movements on the water
When the sun gets up my home becomes bright and warmer.

Campus becomes my garden
Peeing in the forest
Cooking outside while the nature plays in the background
Pushed to be more outside

Have my cozyness inside
Everything I need
Being inside reminds me of all the social fun I had in here.
Less stress from impressions
More control over space when small


Active lifestyle-full flexibility
People think you can't live like this

Dont want to feel contained by the walls of an apt
Don't want to tie up myself mortgage

Wanted a change in my life
living in flat too booring

Can be close to friends when I want to
Motorhome attraction for social activities

No toilet!
Live without heating in Swedish winter

Focus on basic problems
Having something to fix
Own solutions to things

Not reduced to one location

Live through the mental
dream spaces.


Life inside in contact with
surrounding nature/ Part of

Living off the outside

Life inside



Not trapped

try something new

Social enabler



Creative engagement

Expansion of space


Unfolding of outside/




Redefining comfort /


Page 101

Simplifying things
Finding different solutions to things

Fill water in heavy cannisters
Appreciate hot water in the wagon
Doing things slower
Do things for yourself
Knowing that you can live well with little

Focus on non material things
More focus on essentials

Enjoying the simple
fill mind with good things

Space resonates with me
representations meanings
Can do many things in here
Do things differently

Not big economic value
Free to leave home
Free to change living situation quickly


Connected to doing life


Minimalistic lifestyle

Follow dreams


Living as you want/Owning
up to ones ideals

Freedom, not tied to dwelling

closer to life


Free / Rich


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