Wednesday, November 27, 2019

A Russian Counterpart to the American ‘Bowling Alone’ Phenomenon – Dining Alone

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 23 – Nearly 20 years ago, Robert Putnam described the disappearance of many social ties among Americans in his book Bowling Alone which described how those who used to join leagues and thus socialize as they participated in such activities increasingly did so alone. 

            Now, research conducted by the international research firm, NPD Group, shows, Russians who have far fewer horizontal ties like bowling leagues are rapidly losing one of their most important, commensality or the coming together in cafes and restaurants with family and friends (

            Until recently, the share of those eating alone rather than with others did not exceed 50 percent, but now it has climbed to 57 percent, with men more often dining alone (55 percent) than women (45 percent).  What is striking is that the average check for someone dining alone has risen by three percent while that of people dining together has fallen by four percent.

            Marina Lapenkova, a food service specialist for NPD, says that the trend toward dining alone has occurred because people have less time for eating and because ever more Russians are living alone or have less time for eating and thus do not view coming together for meals as being as important as they used to.

            As a result, these findings suggest, in yet another way, Russians are losing some of the relatively few horizontal ties they had, far fewer than the Americans had or have, rather than gaining additional ones, something that would be necessary for the elaboration of a flourishing civil society.

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