social change | May 23, 2012

Kate Bolick and Eric Klinenberg Talk About Solo Living

On CBS Sunday Morning this week, two hot new authors, writing about social trends shaping America, appeared together. Kate Bolick and Eric Klinenberg, Lavin speakers both, discussed the rise in living alone, the subject of Klinenberg’s new book Going Solo. For Bolick, choosing to live alone was a sort of test. She says she grew up close to her family and had tight-knit friends and boyfriends all her life. “I thought, 'God, you know, who am I on my own when I'm not being supported by these people who love me?'”

Bolick is a contributing editor at The Atlantic who skyrocketed to national prominence with her blockbuster cover story, “All the Single Ladies.” The article, about the economic and social factors shaping the romantic landscape of America today, became one of the most widely-read in the magazine's history, sparking a firestorm of comment, controversy, and discussion. Bolick is a big supporter of solo living, and says she's not lonely in the slightest: “I like being able to control my time on my own terms,”she says. “I like that I can eat when I want, read when I want, see friends when I want to. I like that I don't have to make compromises in the way I spend time.”

Eric Klinenberg commends Bolick for her efforts to combat the idea that solitude automatically means “loneliness.”Single people, he says, are “indispensable.” “They go out into the world like no one else does and spend time and money in bars and restaurants, in cafes, in gyms, in clubs,” he continued. “They're the ones who are most likely to go to...all kinds of public activities that give life to city streets.”

Klinenberg is a Professor of Sociology, Public Policy, and Media, Culture and Communications at New York University. In his talks, he examines the far-reaching social and economic effects of the unprecedented rise in solo living: how it has changed our notions of what a city can be, which industries are desirable, and, at core, what life in modern America looks like.

Bolick's “All the Single Ladies,” meanwhile, has helped bring attention to the fact that, for successful career-oriented women, the plethora of choices and the new hurdles they face are unlike anything any previous generation of women have faced. Bolick is now working on her first book; a TV series, based on her story, is in development.