Third Place

“The third place is a concept which identifies places which are not home (first place) or work (second place).

As ‘informal public gathering places’, they are places of refuge, where people can eat, drink, relax, and commune in order to develop a sense of belonging to a place. They are gathering places where community is most alive and people are most themselves.

Third places are important because they act as ‘meditation between individuals and the larger society’ and increase a sense of belonging and community.

-Patricia Mou, “what is the third place (pt.1)” patriciamou.com.

She then talks about characteristics of a third place.

  • Neutral ground or common meeting place
  • Levelers or places that encourage, and are inclusive of, social and cultural diversity
  • Regular patrons
  • Low profile and informal places
  • Places that foster a playful atmosphere
  • A home away from home
  • A place where conversation is the primary activity
  • Places that are easy to access and accommodate various sedentary and active activities

Community: A Third Place

“Home and work, I had read that morning, are our first and second places, respectively, and the third place is a sociable one we choose for ourselves as somewhere that helps root us in our communities, and promotes social equality. Or at least that’s the ideal, according to sociologist Ray Oldenburg, who coined the phrase in 1989 in his book, The Great Good Place: Cafés, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community. ‘Nothing contributes as much to one’s sense of belonging as much as ‘membership’ in a third place,’ he wrote.”

—Brown, Jessica. “Searching London for My ‘Third Place’.” Longreads.com. July 2017.

Adding Oldenberg’s book to my queue. I am curious what qualities make for good First, Second and Third Places. I suspect they differ and could be classified, perhaps Oldenberg has already explored this in detail.