Third Place

The Importance of the Third Place

Third Place or Third Space is a phrase that was coined in the early 1990s by sociologist, Ray Oldenburg. It is essentially a space in which individuals meet to unwind and have discussions about things concerning themselves, their neighborhood and the wider community. It has been argued that third places are essential for civic engagement, civil society, democracy and establishing a sense of belonging.

In essence, these spaces enable community development and help individuals to form and retain a sense of identity and cohesion.

This environment is separate from the typical social environments of the “first place” (home) and the “second place” (the workplace). In the workplace, interaction and communication can be superficial, functional and stereotypical. Conversely, in the social surroundings of third spaces, these people can relax, let down their guard, form new friendships and further develop existing bonds.

Third Place In Businesses and Communities

Coffee Shop as a Third Place

The concept is becoming increasingly popular and a number of small businesses have picked up the term. It has been included in the name of many locally owned hangout spots. Additionally, it is often mentioned in urban planning literature that addresses the development of public spaces and community-oriented business development.

Below are some of the hallmarks by which a true “third place” can be identified:

  • Inexpensive or free
  • Should provide access to food and drinks
  • Should be a place to find both new and old friends
  • Involves the congregation of “regulars” or individuals who habitually gather there
  • Comfortable and welcoming
  • Should be highly accessible

Third places are settings such as parks, cafes, churches, libraries and schools. Events like town meetings, block parties, church events, neighbourhood parties, barbecues, cookouts and bingo nights qualify as third spaces as well.

These informal spaces allow individuals to gather in less-defined groupings. This can do wonders to nurture the type of ambiance individuals are seeking in a social environment. They play a huge role in fostering sociability and eliminate any sense of isolation.

No longer are these spots merely for casual recreational activities. They have developed into an incorporated aspect of the overall lifestyle of many individuals. In fact, the third place have actually developed into a non-negotiable asset for some people.

Contact us for creative ways to enhance your third place.