All the lonely people? : How living or working alone shapes our social lives
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Social integration and its inverse social isolation have concerned sociologists since the inception of the discipline. Over the last 30 years, living alone and working from home — two arrangements that have implications for social integration — have become increasingly common in the United States. Do people who live alone spend more or less time doing socially integrating behaviors? Do people who work from home on a given day spend more or less time with their families? How might the answers to these questions vary based on certain key demographic characteristics? In this dissertation, I use data from the American Time Use Survey to answer these questions. I employ a comprehensive series of behavioral indicators to measure the amount of time spent in social activities. I find that the results are mixed when it comes to living alone and working from home. People who live alone spend less time with others overall, but make concerted efforts to compensate by spending more time with friends and in public places outside the home. Results varied by age, gender, and employment status. When parents work from home, they do spend more time with their children in general; however, several key differences between men and women, and married and unmarried respondents exist. This dissertation has implications for the study of social isolation, family life, and work in the 21st century.