The myth of urban loneliness

New York Magazine has an extensive and interesting piece arguing that ‘urban loneliness’ – the idea that people in densely populated cities are more lonely than people in the country, may be a myth.

The article looks at recent concerns, partly driven by popular books, that single living and hence loneliness is massively increasing in America.

However, the article also examines more recent research that has suggested that this may not be the case, and that while single living is increasing, social isolation is not, owing to the fact that earlier studies used measures of social participation based on the norms of society a generation ago.

The article covers research suggesting that the structure of urban society is changing, so city-dwellers make connections in different ways and at different stages in life. There is little evidence, however, for a great social crisis or that we’re simply becoming less social.

It’s a fascinating article that explores some intriguing social research that rarely gets widely discussed.

The writer largely riffs on a new book by neuroscientist John Cacioppo and writer William Patrick on the science of loneliness which also has a rather spiffy website.

Link to NYMag article ‘Alone Together’.
Link to Loneliness book website.

One Comment

  1. PsyArch
    Posted November 26, 2008 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    As the great Bill Withers said in Lonely Town, Lonely Street “The city really ain’t no bigger than the friendly faces, friendly faces that you meet”.


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