public restrooms are socially important

We should really talk about our toilets. Yes, it’s something that people tend not to discuss too openly because of social taboos, and yet bathrooms are more than just places to do your “business.” How we interact with lavatories involves more than just a rote set of universal rules but basic ‘understandings’ that are influenced by culture, history, and yes, taboo. We tend to view bathrooms as “personal” things, but studying them can lead to a wealth of information about how a culture develops, how people interact, how engineering impacts society, and how we evolve. So why aren’t sociologists studying them more?


At the link below, read about one sociologist’s personal struggle with the bathroom and getting other scientists to open up and talk about it in a piece that was the joint winner of this year’s Economic and Social Research Council writing competition. And then get to talking in the comments: should we spend more time studying bathroom behavior?


Read the article here.

April 1, 2017

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