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Public Places Where We Meet And Share Are Third Places

What is the value of a pub ?  How important is a cafe ?  Why do we need libraries ?  Do we just wash clothes in laundrettes ?  These are some of the questions which I am interested in when I explore the concept of ‘third place’.  Pubs, cafes, libraries and laundrettes can all be ‘third places’ according to Prof Ray Oldenburg who coined the term.  He argues in detail of the importance of these social spaces which exist outside of our homes (first place) and workplaces (second place).  Third places are the spaces where we meet and share with other people… Read more

Local Third Places and Re-Imagining Economies as Sustainable

Professor Ray Oldenburg has spent many years analysing the social function of what he has coined ‘third places’. His books work to highlight the need for juncture places; places we meet and chew the cud with others in our community and network. Rather than the idea of social separate from economic, he recognises that the two lenses of seeing the world as being intimately bound and tied to each other.

The economic and the social cohabit the same landscape acting as a function of each other; this at least has been a reality, and is a necessary truth if we are to understand our world as a humanized place rather than as a machine of production. This perspective meets readily with Alfred Marshall’s statement ‘Political economy or economics is a study of mankind in the ordinary business of life’; this casts the study as something more human and rich than dry and merciless profiteering at any cost. Read more

Podcast: Professor Keith Smyth’s Inaugural Lecture; ‘It’s Third Space, Jim, but not as we know it’

As I pull away in the train from Inverness, I leave with the thought of ‘pivotal moments’. This is one of the messages which I have taken from Keith Smyth’s inaugural address for his Professorship in the University of the Highlands and Islands. That we should be seeking them out and trying to join them up in our world… Read more

Disappearing Social Spaces and The Third Place

Before the core settings of an informal public life can be restored to the urban landscape and re-established in daily life, it will be necessary to articulate their nature and benefit. The core settings of the informal public life must be analyzed and discussed in terms comprehensible to these rational and individualistic outlooks dominant in thought. We must dissect, talk in terms of specific payoffs, and reduce special experience to common labels. We must urgently begin to defend these Great Good Places – as Professor Ray Oldenburg calls them – against the unbelieving and the antagonistic, and do so in terms which are clear to all.

Oldenburg introduced the term “the third place” to describe articulately “the core settings of informal public life”. The third place is a generic designation for a great variety of public places that host the regular, voluntary, informal and happily anticipated gatherings of individuals beyond the realms of home and work. Read more