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Ephemeral Selves: A semiotic cultural analysis of a Swedish bicycle helmet campaign

Öberg, Robin LU (2016) TKAM02 20161
Division of Ethnology
Abstract
In 2014, Lund municipality in Sweden handed out 830 bicycle helmets for free. Such governance campaigns are commonplace in Sweden, yet no campaign has ever been evaluated. There are two research aims to this thesis. First, to evaluate how many of the 830 cyclists actually wear the bicycle helmets that they received. Second, to gain insight into why some cyclists choose to wear the helmet that they received, and why some choose to not wear the helmet that they received. The research purpose is to look at why these cyclists choose to become helmet-wearing or helmet-free, and use that to attain a deeper understanding of ephemeral selves. Two research questions are answered to reach the aims, one quantitative and one qualitative. This leads to... (More)
In 2014, Lund municipality in Sweden handed out 830 bicycle helmets for free. Such governance campaigns are commonplace in Sweden, yet no campaign has ever been evaluated. There are two research aims to this thesis. First, to evaluate how many of the 830 cyclists actually wear the bicycle helmets that they received. Second, to gain insight into why some cyclists choose to wear the helmet that they received, and why some choose to not wear the helmet that they received. The research purpose is to look at why these cyclists choose to become helmet-wearing or helmet-free, and use that to attain a deeper understanding of ephemeral selves. Two research questions are answered to reach the aims, one quantitative and one qualitative. This leads to a mixed-methods perspective, where a survey complements subsequent in-depth interviewing. Questionnaires were sent via post and the online service Webropol, in order to answer different questions regarding the helmet-usage. The response rate was over 50%, and it was found, among other things, that over 70% of the helmets were still in use at the time of the survey. The detailed results of this quantitative survey were used to find representatives to interview. 3 separate in-depth interviews were then performed to gain insight into why some would choose to (not) wear the helmet. These one hour long interviews were coded and analysed using the author’s take on C.S. Peirce’s semiotics. A model is presented, with helmet-wearing and helmet-free cyclists as two ephemeral selves. It is shown that while some cyclists choose to wear the helmet because they want to be associated with what helmet-wearing signifies, some cyclists choose to actively abstain from the helmet because they would rather want to be associated with what it signifies to be a helmet-free cyclist. The research findings of the ephemeral selves, is shown to have academic significance as well as relevance to applied research. Having used applied cultural analysis in this case has not only facilitated an academic explication upon the socio-cultural phenomenon and analytical category of ephemeral selves, it has also enabled for further insight into end-user behaviour for municipalities, NGOs, state ministries, private companies, and other stakeholders of
governance and policy design. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Under 2014 så delade Lunds kommun ut 830 gratis cykelhjälmar. Sådana styrande kampanjer är vanliga i Sverige, ändå har ingen kampanj någonsin blivit utvärderad. Syftet med denna uppsats är tvådelad. Först, att utvärdera hur många av de 830 cyklisterna som faktiskt bär hjälmen som de blev tilldelade. Sedan, att nå insikt om varför vissa cyklister väljer att bära hjälmen och varför andra väljer att inte bära hjälmen. Målet med uppsatsen är att se på varför dessa cyklister väljer att bli hjälmbärare eller hjälmfria, för att nå en djupare förståelse kring efemära själv. Två forskningsfrågor besvaras för att uppfylla syftet, en kvantitativ och en kvalitativ. Detta leder till ett perspektiv med blandad metodologi, där en enkätundersökning... (More)
Under 2014 så delade Lunds kommun ut 830 gratis cykelhjälmar. Sådana styrande kampanjer är vanliga i Sverige, ändå har ingen kampanj någonsin blivit utvärderad. Syftet med denna uppsats är tvådelad. Först, att utvärdera hur många av de 830 cyklisterna som faktiskt bär hjälmen som de blev tilldelade. Sedan, att nå insikt om varför vissa cyklister väljer att bära hjälmen och varför andra väljer att inte bära hjälmen. Målet med uppsatsen är att se på varför dessa cyklister väljer att bli hjälmbärare eller hjälmfria, för att nå en djupare förståelse kring efemära själv. Två forskningsfrågor besvaras för att uppfylla syftet, en kvantitativ och en kvalitativ. Detta leder till ett perspektiv med blandad metodologi, där en enkätundersökning kompletterar djupintervjuande. Frågeformulären skickades via post och onlinetjänsten Webropol, för att besvara olika frågor kring hjälmanvändande. Svarsfrekvensen var över 50%, och det visade sig, bland annat, att över 70% av hjälmarna var fortfarande i användning då enkätundersökningen genomfördes. De detaljerade resultaten från enkätundersökningen användes för att finna representanter att intervjua. 3 separata djupintervjuer utfördes för att nå insikt om varför vissa väljer att (inte) använda hjälmen. De entimmeslånga intervjuerna analyserades med författarens tolkning av C.S. Peirces semiotik. En modell över hjälmbärande och hjälmfria cyklister presenteras, för att beskriva de två efemära själven funna genom denna studie. Vissa människor väljer att bära hjälmen för att de vill bli associerade med vad hjälmbärande betyder, medan vissa människor väljer att avstå från att bära hjälmen för att de hellre vill bli associerade med vad det betyder att vara en hjälmfri cyklist. Forskningsfyndet av de efemära själven visar sig ha både stor akademisk betydelse och relevans för tillämpad forskning. Att ha använt tillämpad kulturanalys i denna fallstudie har inte bara inbegripit en akademisk utforskning utav det socio-kulturella fenomenet och den analytiska kategorin efemära själv, utan det har också möjliggjort för vidare insikt av användarbeteende för kommuner, organisationer, statliga verk, privata företag, och andra intressenter av utformning utav styrmedel och riktlinjer. (Less)
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author
Öberg, Robin LU
supervisor
organization
course
TKAM02 20161
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Applied Cultural Analysis, Bicycle Helmets, C.S. Peirce, Cultural Anthropology, Ephemeral Selves, European Ethnology, Evaluation, Governance, MACA, Marketing, Material Culture, Materiality, Mixed-Methods Approach, Performance, Policy, Semiotics, Social Self, Statistics, Traffic Safety Campaign, Qualitative Insight, Cykelhjälmar, Efemära Själv, Europeisk Etnologi, Kvalitativ Insikt, Kulturantropologi, Marknadsföring, Materiell Kultur, Materialitet, Riktlinjer, Semiotik, Socialt Själv, SPSS, Statistik, Styrmedel, Tillämpad Kulturanalys, trafiksäkerhetskampanjer, Uppträdande
language
English
additional info
This text is the result of a master thesis course at the programme of Master of Applied Cultural Analysis. The MACA programme is a joint effort between the European Ethnology
department at Lund University in Sweden, and the department of Anthropology at Copenhagen University in Denmark. The MACA programme teaches students how to apply theory
and methodology from both the social sciences as well as the humanities, by the active
engagement with clients in real work-life conditions.
The semester before the thesis course is when the students are supposed to do their internships, working for clients and getting empirical material for their theses. I was unable to do
this due to lack of funds, and so I was forced to gain my work-life experience at the same
time as I was writing the thesis. Even though this was taken into account and planned for, it
turned out that keeping to the scope and timeframe was impossible, not because of anything
on my part, but simply because the quantitative research data took too long to come into my
possession.
The printing, the packing, and the mailing of the questionnaires took longer than promised.
Almost all of the respondents went over the deadline for responding. The scanning company
took longer than they promised. By the time I had the data, it was only one week left of the
semester and I still had to do all the analysing in SPSS. I had done most of the qualitative
work already, and everything was prepared to go into the thesis as soon as the quantitative
analysis was finished. Even this was a valuable experience in terms of how projects can pan
out when working for clients in a work-life situation, the changed timeline of the thesis was
out of my hands, and I was forced to continue working on the thesis over the summer break.
Aside from all those methodological issues, I have had a very good time writing this
thesis. It was the first time I ever employed this kind of semiotics, and it was the third time I
used SPSS in a practical application. The PowerPoint-aided presentation that I held for the
municipality and the NGO also went very well, where I spoke for almost 2½ hours, happily
answering all the questions they had about my research. They were so happy with my work
that I received signed references and accolades.
I hope the reader will enjoy reading this thesis as much as I have writing it.

The first one I want to thank is my academic supervisor, Jessica Enevold at the Ethnology &
Digital Culture department at Lund University, for her great patience and invaluable feedback
during my work on this thesis.
My biggest gratitude goes out to Anders Söderberg at the Technical Services Department
at Lund Municipality, without whom the evaluation behind this thesis would never even have
been imagined. The project was his idea, and he has helped me every step of the way. His
supervision and guiding throughout the empirical data collection has been more than needed
for the fruition of this thesis.
Helena Ensegård at the NGO Miljöbron also deserves mention, because I would never
been put in contact with the Lund Municipality without her. The project itself was posted via
Miljöbron. Her advice as well as optimism has also been an important asset.
I also want to thank my academic peers, Ashlen Lenisco, Wentong Cai (蔡闻桐), and Ida
Burguete Holmgren, for providing much needed feedback during the review process. The
‘royal we’ should now be nowhere to be seen.
Last but not least I want to extend a thank you to my partner Laura Nieuwenhoven, for her
daily support, and for pushing me to put in more work on this thesis. It would not have been
nearly as much fun without you.

Thank you all
//Robin Öberg
Lund, 2016
id
8885081
date added to LUP
2016-09-15 11:32:38
date last changed
2016-09-15 11:32:38
@misc{8885081,
  abstract     = {In 2014, Lund municipality in Sweden handed out 830 bicycle helmets for free. Such governance campaigns are commonplace in Sweden, yet no campaign has ever been evaluated. There are two research aims to this thesis. First, to evaluate how many of the 830 cyclists actually wear the bicycle helmets that they received. Second, to gain insight into why some cyclists choose to wear the helmet that they received, and why some choose to not wear the helmet that they received. The research purpose is to look at why these cyclists choose to become helmet-wearing or helmet-free, and use that to attain a deeper understanding of ephemeral selves. Two research questions are answered to reach the aims, one quantitative and one qualitative. This leads to a mixed-methods perspective, where a survey complements subsequent in-depth interviewing. Questionnaires were sent via post and the online service Webropol, in order to answer different questions regarding the helmet-usage. The response rate was over 50%, and it was found, among other things, that over 70% of the helmets were still in use at the time of the survey. The detailed results of this quantitative survey were used to find representatives to interview. 3 separate in-depth interviews were then performed to gain insight into why some would choose to (not) wear the helmet. These one hour long interviews were coded and analysed using the author’s take on C.S. Peirce’s semiotics. A model is presented, with helmet-wearing and helmet-free cyclists as two ephemeral selves. It is shown that while some cyclists choose to wear the helmet because they want to be associated with what helmet-wearing signifies, some cyclists choose to actively abstain from the helmet because they would rather want to be associated with what it signifies to be a helmet-free cyclist. The research findings of the ephemeral selves, is shown to have academic significance as well as relevance to applied research. Having used applied cultural analysis in this case has not only facilitated an academic explication upon the socio-cultural phenomenon and analytical category of ephemeral selves, it has also enabled for further insight into end-user behaviour for municipalities, NGOs, state ministries, private companies, and other stakeholders of
governance and policy design.},
  author       = {Öberg, Robin},
  keyword      = {Applied Cultural Analysis,Bicycle Helmets,C.S. Peirce,Cultural Anthropology,Ephemeral Selves,European Ethnology,Evaluation,Governance,MACA,Marketing,Material Culture,Materiality,Mixed-Methods Approach,Performance,Policy,Semiotics,Social Self,Statistics,Traffic Safety Campaign,Qualitative Insight,Cykelhjälmar,Efemära Själv,Europeisk Etnologi,Kvalitativ Insikt,Kulturantropologi,Marknadsföring,Materiell Kultur,Materialitet,Riktlinjer,Semiotik,Socialt Själv,SPSS,Statistik,Styrmedel,Tillämpad Kulturanalys,trafiksäkerhetskampanjer,Uppträdande},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Ephemeral Selves: A semiotic cultural analysis of a Swedish bicycle helmet campaign},
  year         = {2016},
}