Research categorized as related to ‘third places’ studies the significance of social spaces (not home or work—first and second places) where people can regularly visit and interact with friends, acquaintances, and even strangers. Examples may include a cafe, church, or bookstore.
This paper introduces ‘fourth places’ as an additional category of informal social settings alongside ‘third places’. Through extensive empirical fieldwork on where and how social interaction among strangers occurs in the public and semi-public spaces of a contemporary masterplanned neighbourhood, this paper reveals that ‘fourth places’ are closely related to ‘third places’ in terms of social and behavioural characteristics, involving a radical departure from the routines of home and work, inclusivity and social comfort. However, the activities, users, locations and spatial conditions that support them are very different. They are characterized by ‘in-betweenness’ in terms of spaces, activities, time and management, as well as a great sense of publicness. This paper will demonstrate that the latter conditions are effective in breaking the ‘placelessness’ and ‘fortress’ designs of newly designed urban public spaces and that, by doing so, they make ‘fourth places’ sociologically more open in order to bring strangers together. The recognition of these findings problematizes well-established urban design theories and redefines several spatial concepts for designing public space. Ultimately, the findings also bring optimism to urban design practice, offering new insights into how to design more lively and inclusive public spaces.
Rosenbaum, M. S., Ward, J., Walker, B. A., & Ostrom, A. L.
This study introduces theory about how deficits in social support motivate consumers to replace lost social resources by forming relationships with customers and employees in commercial “third places.” The authors demonstrate sup- port for a multiple-indicator, multiple-cause model that illustrates how six common events that destroy or erode a person’s social support can cause the person to obtain emotional support and companionship in a third place. The model supports the linkage between commercial social sup- port and a consumer’s sense of attachment to a third place that harbors his or her social support network. The authors also propose and test hypotheses that reveal that consumers obtain social support in a third place to the extent to which they lost it outside the place. In essence, third-place patrons match their lost support to their commercial support, thus remedying negative symptoms associated with isolation. The article concludes with a discussion of managerial implications and limitations.
This article explores the relationship between pavement cafés, street life and urban public social life. It argues that the licensing of public entertainment and the enforcement of liquor licences and rigid opening times have helped to undermine public social life in English cities. Attitudes which first gained ascendancy in the 1890s have remained dominant and, broadly speaking, unchanged. Nevertheless, there has been a recent and fairly rapid growth in wine bars, cafés and bistros in London and some other English cities. The paper explores whether these help to stimulate public social life. Reference is made to research in Holland and Denmark, and also recent experience in London and Manchester. The paper concludes that city policy makers should, in the short term at least, act to stimulate café culture. Some anti-social and behavioural problems might well require an element of control, and not all urban areas are suited to café culture. Yet in a technological age, café culture represents one of the few remaining opportunities for public sociability. Where it creates a nuisance, it could and should be controlled but this is not the same thing as exercising an all-persuasive moral control which has its roots in Victorian England.
The development and proliferation of mobile social networks have the potential to transform ways that people come together and interact in public space.These services allow new kinds of information to flow into public spaces and, as such, can rearrange social and spatial practices. Dodgeball is used as a case study of mobile social networks. Based on a year-long qualitative field study, this article explores how Dodgeball was used to facilitate social congregation in public spaces and begins to expand our understanding of traditional notions of space and social interaction. Drawing on the concept of parochial space, this article examines how ideas of mobile communication and public space are negotiated in the everyday practice and use of mobile social networks.
This paper reports the findings from a research project that examines the relationship between urban design and the physical environment, and aspects of social and communal life in suburbs. Australian suburbs are perceived to be lacking in vitality and sociability. To address this, three suburban commercial streets were selected for investigation. Through documents and maps of the residents’ activities and behaviour, this study aims to identify the popular zones of activity and investigate the physical characteristics that encourage a sociable atmosphere in activity zones. The observation of activities in the three streets has been registered in tables relative to the date and time of occurrence. According to the behavioural mappings, the zones of activity are mostly shaped around pavement cafes and popular everyday food stores. Since more than half the activities have been observed to be initiated from the pavement cafes, this paper will investigate how the physical qualities of commercial streets such as the width of the pavements, personalization, soft edges and greenery have contributed to the pavement café culture in the selected neighbourhood centres.
This thesis sets out to examine whether incorporating local independent or small regional chain retailers and restaurants along with national chain stores in new large scale open-air retail developments can help add to a “sense of place” in these projects and thus make them more successful. New retail developments of the past two decades, often called Lifestyle Centers, Urban Entertainment Centers, Town Centers or New Main Streets, attempt through design to create a “place.” However, unlike traditional Main Streets or other locales that come to mind when thinking of distinctive “places” to shop, the tenants in these centers seem to be largely the same as those in regional malls—ubiquitous national chain stores. Due to this lack of local, unique content, these projects in many cases seem to be more a repackaging of the regional mall formula than truly successful attempts at place making. However, despite several challenges to tenanting independent businesses, some owners of new, what I refer to as, Place Making Centers have nonetheless taken a more proactive role in varying their tenant mix so as to better differentiate and reflect the local character of these projects; consciously dedicating a substantial percentage of their retail space for smaller local or regional retailers. This suggests that for some developers and projects these obstacles can be overcome, and that there is some perceived added value, place making or otherwise, to incorporating these businesses. In this thesis, I argue that place making, besides a physical act, also involves an intangible social and cognitive quality. I also assert that independent business can contribute to sense of place by contributing spaces more likely to promote social interaction and adapt over time and by providing a sense of uniqueness, rootedness and authenticity. Furthermore, the characteristics that contribute to the likelihood and/or viability of incorporating independent businesses in a project fall into three categories—owner characteristics, project financing and economics, and market characteristics. In projects that successfully overcome these obstacles, independent businesses are shown to further place making’s aim of overall and long-term value creation, suggesting that incorporation of these retailers should be strongly considered by developers of new retail formats.
This paper is based on an empirical study of users of an internet café in South east England. It picks out some of the key distinctions between internet use within domestic spaces and as a technology accessed in a public economy of consumption. The research findings are contextualized and tested against existing work on public internet access. The material derived from interviews with customers is used to explore the ways in which the internet is differently perceived, used and gendered in the public spaces of an internet café. The paper argues that public use of the internet is not just a transitional phenomenon which precedes home internet adoption. The research revealed that the internet café provided a distinct and dedicated use space which was intimately bound up in the domestic and work routines of its users.
Urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg defines a third place as a place of refuge other than the home or workplace where people can regularly visit and commune with friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even strangers. Because little is known about the place-based physical qualities of third places that support sociability and place attachment, this article examines how four urban design characteristics distinguish third-place businesses from other businesses on the Main Street. The article discusses a study conducted at Main Streets in two cities and one town in Massachusetts. As part of the study, visual surveys measured urban design qualities of businesses on the Main Streets, and interviews helped determine user perceptions. The findings suggest that third places are relatively high in both personalization (distinctiveness, recognizability) and permeability to the street, but seating and shelter provisions are perhaps the most crucial urban design characteristics that contribute to sociability on the Main Street.