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Closure of ‘third places’? Exploring potential consequences for collective health and wellbeing

Authors: Jessica Finlay*, University of Michigan, Michael Esposito, University of Michigan, Min Hee Kim, University of Michigan, Iris Gomez-Lopez, University of Michigan, Philippa Clarke, University of Michigan
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Urban Geography, Social Geography
Keywords: Third places, Social infrastructure, Neighborhood, Place, Public health, Wellbeing
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In unassuming neighborhood locales, such as coffee shops, hair salons, parks, and malls, people meet to socialize, express themselves, and support one another. These ‘third places’ enrich social interaction, sense of community, and belonging outside of the home and workplace. Yet third places are closing across the United States. Americans may be losing access to key services, goods, and amenities, in addition to community sites that help buffer against loneliness, stress, and alienation. The relevance of third places to health and quality life is under-researched. These sites may support wellbeing through mechanisms of stimulation, support, protection, and care. We call on researchers to investigate how third places contribute to wellbeing and consider the consequences that the disappearance of such places has for public health. Future research on third places may be mobilized to innovatively reduce health disparities and improve quality of life.

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