, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 221-236
Date: 10 Aug 2012

“Third places” and social interaction in deprived neighbourhoods in Great Britain

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Abstract

This paper explores social interaction in local ‘public’ social spaces such as local shops, pubs, cafés, and community centres in deprived neighbourhoods. More specifically, it examines the importance, role and function of these places, which have been described by Oldenberg and Brissett (Qual Sociol 5(4):265–284, 1982), Oldenburg (Urban design reader. Architectural Place, Oxford, 2007) as being “third places” of social interaction after the home (first) and workplace (second). It does so by drawing on data gleaned from in-depth interviews with 180 residents in six deprived areas neighbourhoods across Great Britain, conducted as part of a study of the links between poverty and place funded by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. The paper notes that local third places are an important medium for social interaction in these areas, although their importance appears to vary by population group. It notes that shops appear to be a particularly important social space. It also identifies some of the barriers to social interaction within third places and concludes by highlighting some of the key implications for policy to emerge from the research.