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Author Of Heat Wave Study Explores Trend Toward Living Alone

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Eric Klinenberg

Eric Klinenberg is the author of a new book exploring the trend toward living alone. (Credit: Eric Klinenberg)

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CHICAGO (CBS) — The sociologist who wrote the definitive study of Chicago’s 1995 killer heat wave is out with a new book that grew out of that one.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, after completing his 2002 book, Heat Wave: A Social Autopsy of a Disaster in Chicago, sociologist Eric Klinenberg began working on his latest book, Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone.. He notes that most of the victims of the heat wave lived alone.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports


“I set out to understand how we had grown so isolated and why so many people were living alone and dying alone in cities like Chicago,” Klineberg said.

He found that since 1950, the number of people living alone has soared.

“There are an unprecedented number of people living alone,” Klinenberg said. “In the United States, it’s about 33 million compared to just 4 million in 1950.”

In Chicago, he says, a third of all households consist of singles, concentrated in densely-populated neighborhoods such as Lakeview, Lincoln Park and the West Loop.

“These are places where there’s lots of public street life, where people feel comfortable going out at night, walking the streets and there are many places where people can interact with each other,” he said.

But what shocked Klinenberg was that most of those living alone are hardly sad and lonely.

In fact, they’re thriving, he said.

“We’re actually connecting with each other in all kinds of new and interesting ways,” Klinenberg said. “In fact, it’s our inter-dependence that makes our independence possible.”

Klinenberg is in Chicago Thursday. He will promote his book an event at 12:40 p.m. in the McCormick Tribune Campus Center auditorium at the Illinois Institute of Technology, 3201 S. State St.

He will also appear at 6 p.m. at 57th Street Books, at 1301 E. 57th St. in the Hyde Park neighborhood.

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