Ray Oldenburg

Ray Oldenburg

Ray Oldenburg (born 1932 [cite LAF|id=n88-192361] ) is an urban sociologist from Florida who writes about the importance of informal public gathering places for a functioning civil society, democracy, and civic engagement. He coined the term third place and is the author of the books "Celebrating The Third Place" and "The Great Good Place", which was a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice for 1989.

Academic career

Ray Oldenburg, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. He received his B.S., Mankato State University, 1954; M.A., University of Minnesota, 1965; and Ph.D., University of Minnesota, 1968.


Third PlacesOldenburg suggests that beer gardens, main streets, pubs, cafes, coffeehouses, post offices, and other third places are the heart of a community's social vitality and the foundation of a functioning democracy. They promote social equality by leveling the status of guests, provide a setting for grassroots politics, create habits of public association, and offer psychological support to individuals and communities.

Oldenburg identifies that in modern suburban societies time is primarily spent in isolated first (home) and second (work) places. In contrast, third places offer a neutral public space for a community to connect and establish bonds. Third places "host the regular, voluntary, informal, and happily anticipated gatherings of individuals beyond the realms of home and work."


"Life without community has produced, for many, a life style consisting mainly of a home-to-work-and-back-again shuttle. Social well-being and psychological health depend upon community. It is no coincidence that the 'helping professions' became a major industry in the United States as suburban planning helped destroy local public life and the community support it once lent."

"Most needed are those 'third places' which lend a public balance to the increased privatization of home life. Third places are nothing more than informal public gathering places. The phrase 'third places' derives from considering our homes to be the 'first' places in our lives, and our work places the 'second.'"


*cite book | author=Oldenburg, Ray | title=The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Community Centers, Beauty Parlors, General Stores, Bars, Hangouts, and How They Get You Through the Day | location=New York | publisher=Paragon House | year=1989 | id=ISBN 978-1557781109 [Hardback]
*cite book | author=Oldenburg, Ray | title=The Great Good Place | location=New York | publisher=Marlowe & Company | year=1991 | id=ISBN 978-1569246818 [Paperback]
*cite book | author=Oldenburg, Ray | title=Celebrating the Third Place: Inspiring Stories about the "Great Good Places" at the Heart of Our Communities | location=New York | publisher=Marlowe & Company | year=2000 | id=ISBN 978-1569246122


External links

* [http://uwf.edu/catalog/faco.htm/ Univ of West Florida Faculty Listing]
* [http://www.pps.org/info/placemakingtools/placemakers/roldenburg PPS Profile of Ray Oldenburg]

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