Social Activity in Gothenburg’s Intermediate City: Mapping Third Places through Social Media Data
Journal article, 2020
This research focuses on the intermediate city, composed of urban areas located right outside the city center typically maintaining an in-between urban/suburban character. It aims to explore the degree to which this segment of the city exhibits urban activity and social life through the identification of activity areas in the so-called Third Places. Four intermediate city neighborhoods in Gothenburg, Sweden are adopted as case areas and are analyzed using a twofold approach. First, socio-economic statistics provide a quantitative understanding of the case areas and, second, geolocated Social Media Data (SMD) from Foursquare, Google Places and Twitter makes it possible to identify the intermediate city’s urban activity areas and socially preferred urban spaces. The findings suggest that a) the four analyzed intermediate city areas of Gothenburg all have a degree of social activity, especially where economic activities are clustered together; b) Third Places in more affluent areas tend to be linked to commodified consumption of urban space while neighborhoods with lower income levels and higher ethnic diversity seem to emphasize open public space as Third Places; and c) nowadays the typology of Third Places has evolved from the types identified in previous decades to include additional types of places, such as those you pass on the way to something else (e.g. gas and bus stations). The study has verified the value of SMD for studies of urban social life but also identified a number of topics for further research. Additional sources of SMD should be identified to secure a just representation of Third Places across diverse social groups. Furthermore, new methods for effective cross validation of SMD with other types of data are crucial, including e.g. statistics, on-site observations and surveys/interviews, not least to identify Third Places that are not frequently present (or are misrepresented) in SMD.