Civil society depends on places that are neither workplaces nor homes. New research on how they’ve fared during the pandemic shows which ones matter most to people.
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hird places — cafes, community centers, and other public places that, as sociologist Ray Oldenburg observed, may increase communal ties by hosting “the regular, voluntary, informal, and happily anticipated gatherings of individuals beyond the realms of home and work” — are in the news once again. New research shows that these places helped cushion the effect of the pandemic across a range of measures, including personal bankruptcies, mental-health outcomes, and coronavirus infections and deaths. It has long been theorized that these “third places” play a powerful role in anchoring and sustaining community, and they undeniably have done so during the …