Occupational Therapy Publications

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Working Paper

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Rising rates of social isolation in Canada and other middle- and high-income countries have turned scholarly attention to the kinds of places that facilitate social connections. “Third places” - physical and virtual places beyond home (first places) and work (second places) - are thought to foster social interaction, connection, belonging, and support. This evidence brief reports on a SSHRC funded knowledge synthesis that linked understandings about “third places” with situations of precarious employment, given that people facing precarious employment circumstances often lack the social opportunities and resources associated with stable workplaces. This scoping review assessed what is known about the types and characteristics of “third places” that help maintain social connectedness and address social isolation for adults experiencing precarious employment circumstances. The project examined English-language research articles published in multidisciplinary academic journals between 2012 and 2022. The review captured diverse forms of employment (i.e., gig work, involuntary part-time work, seasonal work, temporary migrant work) characterized as transient, non-permanent, unpredictable, having few worker protections or rights, and associated with low or unpredictable remuneration, as well as cyclical and long-term unemployment. In addition to synthesizing study results, findings attend to how studies addressed diverse social positions and studies’ geographic locations, methodologies, methods, and quality. The goal of the project was to understand the current state of knowledge on this topic; create dialogue about how social isolation can be addressed through precarious workers’ engagement with “third places”; and identify opportunities for stakeholders to partner on place-based interventions with people experiencing precarious employment circumstances.