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Going Solo

The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone

By Eric Klinenberg
10-minute read
Audio available
Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone by Eric Klinenberg

Going Solo (2012) explains the sociological factors that have led so many adults to live on their own. These blinks detail the history of solo living, describe the benefits of choosing such a lifestyle and explore the different conditions under which solo adults live.

  • Sociology students
  • Newly single people
  • Bachelors and bachelorettes everywhere

Eric Klinenberg is a sociologist and contributor to, among other publications, the New Yorker, Time magazine and the New York Times. He is a professor of sociology and the director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University. His other titles include Heatwave: A Social Autopsy of Disaster in Chicago.

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Going Solo

The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone

By Eric Klinenberg
  • Read in 10 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 6 key ideas
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Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone by Eric Klinenberg
Synopsis

Going Solo (2012) explains the sociological factors that have led so many adults to live on their own. These blinks detail the history of solo living, describe the benefits of choosing such a lifestyle and explore the different conditions under which solo adults live.

Key idea 1 of 6

The number of adults living alone, or “going solo” has increased dramatically since 1950.

During the first half of the twentieth century, few Americans would have thought that so many people would be happily alone just a few decades later. Nowadays, around 50 percent of all US citizens are single, thanks to important shifts in the structure of the world.

One of the biggest reasons that more people are going solo is that women now play a much larger role in the workforce. Incredibly, between  1950 and 2000, the amount of working women in America increased from 18 million to 66 million!

In the 1950s and 1960s, a woman’s role was essentially to stay at home and raise her family. It was exceedingly uncommon for a woman to have a career or even to earn her own money.

During this period, divorce was also a rarity. In part, this was because it was frowned upon socially, but it was also because most women didn’t earn enough to support themselves financially.

As greater numbers of women began entering the job market and attaining financial independence along with a higher standing in society, the control that they had over their lives increased as well. In turn, the number of adults who lived by themselves rose.

Another key enabler is technological. After all, in the modern world, the proliferation of home communication technology prevents people from feeling lonely, even when there’s nobody else around. This is a big change from the early days of going solo when the landline telephone and television were the key devices used to shake off loneliness.

Today, we’re all so connected via social media and the internet that we feel like we’re socializing even when we’re at home by ourselves. And even if we do feel lonely, we have the comfort of knowing that our friends and family, not to mention the rest of the world, are a mere click away.

But beyond women climbing the career ladder and technology changing our lives, a number of other factors have influenced the move toward single living. Next up we’ll learn how population shifts to urban centers have also promoted this change.

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