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How We Live Now

Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century

By Bella DePaulo
10-minute read
Audio available
How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century by Bella DePaulo

In How We Live Now (2016), you’re taken on a virtual trip across the United States to explore the different ways in which Americans create homes for themselves, their families and friends. These blinks reveal the latest trends in communal living as well as the forces driving people to create new, fascinating ways to live.

  • Anyone thinking about getting their own place to live
  • Students or researchers interested in community organization
  • Social scientists

Bella dePaulo is a project scientist in social psychology at the University of California at Santa Barbara. She is the author of numerous articles that have appeared in publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, among others. She received a doctorate from Harvard University in 1979.

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How We Live Now

Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century

By Bella DePaulo
  • Read in 10 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 6 key ideas
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How We Live Now: Redefining Home and Family in the 21st Century by Bella DePaulo
Synopsis

In How We Live Now (2016), you’re taken on a virtual trip across the United States to explore the different ways in which Americans create homes for themselves, their families and friends. These blinks reveal the latest trends in communal living as well as the forces driving people to create new, fascinating ways to live.

Key idea 1 of 6

Every person in society is seeking the right balance of sociability and solitude.

When you hear the word “alone,” you might immediately think, “lonely.” Similarly, the words “quiet” and “peace” are often used interchangeably.

These two-word associations reflect two ways of thinking about being with oneself.

In fact, people vary greatly in their need for solitude and their enjoyment of the presence of others. While nearly every person requires some time alone, some describe this feeling as a desire, while others see it as a craving or need.

People who need solitude, for example, say they can only fully recharge and center themselves by being completely alone. Even if a good friend were reading quietly in a corner of the room, they say, part of their attention would always be on that person.

Other types of people describe being alone as “boring” and become sad when no one is around. Even when such people want to be alone, they still enjoy hearing the footsteps or voices of roommates amid their semi-solitude.

This brings us to one of the main ways you can manage solitude: by choosing the fashion in which you live, you regulate access to yourself and others. In selecting a living arrangement, you decide how much control you will have over the extent and depth you get to know others, and in turn, how well they get to know you.

For example, if you live in a co-housing community with a common meal room and kitchen, you’ll have many opportunities to become friends with people around you. You can decide how close you get to others by choosing how often you enter common spaces.

And if you share a house with someone, it’s inevitable that you’ll run into each other – for example, in the morning before work or late at night when returning from a party, even if you would prefer not to!

Next, we’ll look at different living arrangements people have created to strike the right balance between sociability and solitude. We’ll start with those that provide the most togetherness and progress to those that cherish privacy.

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