Just one? Solo dining, gender and temporal belonging in public spaces

Kinneret Lahad, Vanessa May

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In recent years, various lifestyle websites have offered tips on eating out alone as well as lists of the best restaurants for solo dining in major cities of the world. Utilising the theoretical concepts of participation units, territories of the self (Goffman 1972[1971]) and belonging (May 2011, 2013), this paper explores the challenges that spatio-temporal conventions pose for women solo diners in particular. Through the lens of solo dining, we explore being alone and belonging in shared public spaces, and the gendered nature of aloneness and respectability. The paper contributes to existing theory by examining the influence that time has on a woman solo diner’s ‘single’ participation unit, her ability to lay claim to public space and her relationship with the surrounding social environment. The paper concludes by exploring what the new trend of solo dining can offer and the consequences this has for how sociologists conceptualise sociality in public spaces.

Original languageEnglish
Article number12
JournalSociological Research Online
Issue number2
StatePublished - 31 May 2017


  • Belonging
  • Gendered Respectability
  • Participation Units
  • Solo Dining
  • Time


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