‘Third place’ was first coined in 1989 by professor of sociology Ray Oldenburg, who identified these spaces as “homes away from home where unrelated people relate”. Karen Christensen, who is working on an update of Oldenburg’s work, explains that people have worried about losing third places for as long as the term has existed. But the problems that arise without them are now becoming more acute.

“I think that the terrible problem we see with loneliness and the mental health issues that people face often come from just not having enough of the steady casual support that people got from third places,” she tells Refinery29. Data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) found that 3.8 million people are experiencing loneliness in 2023 (that’s half a million more people than in the first year of the pandemic). It may seem self evident, but if we cannot have shared spaces in which to connect, friendships will fracture and drift apart and loneliness, already a critical problem in Western society, will continue to proliferate. . . . Read the whole article, “There’s Nowhere To Hang Out For Free Anymore & It’s Making Us Lonely.”