The source is highly credible because Ray Oldenburg is an acknowledged expert in the field of urban sociology. He holds PhD in Sociology and is now Professor Emeritus at the University of West Florida (Project for Public Spaces). Apart from his academic career, he is also engaged as a consultant to businessman and urban planners. Oldenburg’s work has had a large impact on sociology and new media studies, as well as marketing and urban planning (Soukup 423).
What Strikes Me Most
When reading the chapter, it is hard to believe at first that third places (like pubs and coffeehouses) can have such a large importance as the author claims. Personally, I tended to think that the main function of these places is to comfort people and let them relax from everyday troubles. However, now I realize that they also provide opportunity for people to exchange ideas in the conditions where ranks and status are not important. It is a disputable statement, however, that Americans do not have third places and that they are not skilled at conversation. In my view, a lot of licensed establishments oriented at college students show most of the characteristics described by the author. What is the most important, is that their visitors gather in order to talk joyfully with the people they already know from other settings. Also, according to my observations, Americans are very sociable people and they like to share their experience and thoughts with others. This way, I agree with Ray Oldenburg on the significance of third places in general, but I have slightly differing thoughts on their presence in the US.
Third places can serve human needs immensely but their virtues are mostly underestimated and very little research has been done on their characteristics (20).
Third places are much more than a safe haven for escape and relaxation (21).
“…We need a good deal of immunity from those whose company we like best” (22).
There must be neutral grounds for people to gather without having to play the role of hosts (22).
“Within third places, the charm and flavor of one’s personality, irrespective of his or her station in life, is what counts” (24).
In third places, people can get to know each other better than at workplace or private places (24).
The main activity for people in third places is enjoyable conversation. However, for Americans conversation is something idle and useless, and they do not have enough mastery in it (26-27).
Third places must be accessible and accommodating in the period of time when people are free from their responsibilities. Also, they must be located nearby. Very few middle-class Americans can enjoy such places (32-33).
“Third places are dominated by their regulars, but not necessarily in a numerical sense” (34).
Third place need to have plain appearance and playful mood (36-37).
While third place is essentially different from home setting, it resembles home in the comfort and warmth it provides for the visitors (38-41).
The Source Reconsidered
Third places have a large social importance as they enable people to get to know each other without being confined to status and position in life. They have a set of definite characteristics that distinguish them from all other settings. They must necessarily be neutral grounds with the main purpose of pleasant conversation. Also, they have to be accessible both in terms of time and place. The visitors of these places feel there as comfortable as at home though they do not have similar obligations. In America, there is a lack of third places that possess these characteristics. The author believes that Americans do not value conversation as much as other nations (especially Europeans) and thus cannot enjoy all the advantages that third places provide.
- Oldenburg, Ray. The Great Good Place. New York: Marlowe & Company, 1991. Print.
- Project for Public Places. Ray Oldenburg. N.d. Web. Sep. 14, 2015. http://www.pps.org/reference/roldenburg/
- Soukup, Charles. “Computer-Mediated Communication as a Virtual Third Place: Building Oldenburg’s Great Good Places on the World Wide Web”. New Media Society 8.3 (2006): 421-440. Print.