home | bio | publications | vitae | classes | weblog | contact me


new paper: Change in the social life of urban public spaces: The rise of mobile phones and women, and the decline of aloneness over 30 years

I have a new paper published with my former PhD student Lauren Sessions Goulet and former undergraduate research assistant Garrett Albanesius. This work was recently featured by NYT Magazine in an article by Mark Oppenheimer.

Despite concerns that Americans are increasingly likely to live alone, that loneliness has increased, and that the mobile phone ‘by distracting us from those around us’ has led to the loss of conversation, today public spaces are a more likely source for interacting than they were three decades ago. Observations of nearly 150,000 people captured on film in four public places in 1979-80, and from video taken of the same places 30 years later, show that we are less alone and more together in public. Mobile phones, while seemingly always present, are used in public by a small number of people, who tend to linger in place, but rarely use their phones in groups. Other social changes have had a more meaningful impact on the use of public spaces. Women, whose participation in the workforce has increased by 44 percent since the early 1980s, have increased their use of public space. Men and women are spending more time in public together. These observations counter the suggestion that new technologies are responsible for a large scale shift in how people use public spaces, and that Americans are increasingly socially isolated.

In a comparison of pedestrians filmed in four public spaces located in Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia at two time periods, 30 years apart, we found that the proportion of people in groups had increased relative to people who were alone. The early films, created by the Project for Public Spaces, a nonprofit planning and educational organization founded to expand on the work of William Whyte, when compared to recent videos, show a decline of 24 percent in the presence of people who were alone at the Met Steps in NYC, a 24 percent decline in singletons within Boston’s Downtown Crossing, and an 8 percent decline in people alone on the sidewalks outside of Bryant Park in NYC…

READ THE FULL BLOG POST on the London School of Economics (LSE) American Politics and Policy blog (USApp).

You can download the final version of the paper here, or access a draft version of the paper on my website.

Fri Jul 11, 2014 @ 10:57:00 am

search blog:


0.92, 1.00, 2.00


March 2017
September 2016
January 2016
August 2015
July 2014
October 2013
February 2013
November 2011
June 2011
February 2011
October 2010
February 2010
November 2009
April 2009
January 2009
November 2008
September 2008
June 2008
April 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
July 2007
April 2007
March 2007
January 2007
December 2006
October 2006
September 2006
July 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
August 2005
June 2005
May 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003

[powered by b2.]

home | bio | publications | vitae | classes | weblog | contact me