Dr. Mervyn Horgan
Dr. Mervyn Horgan

Sociology professor Dr. Mervyn Horgan spoke to CBC Radio’s Sunday Magazine about new research he and colleague Dr. Saara Liinamaa conducted on the social value of outdoor recreational skating rinks.

As Horgan told the show, his research found that recreational skaters generally shared the rink respectfully and peacefully. At rinks designed for hockey, by contrast, previous research has found more social exclusion, greater competition and mostly male, white users.

The research also noted that recreational skating rinks include a diverse mix of people with different cultural backgrounds, different ages and skill levels.

“…And what we found particularly interesting was that the hierarchies that you find in society more generally where for example seniors are ranked higher — these hierarchies get turned upside down on the ice,” he said.

Horgan is a social theorist, urbanist and cultural sociologist. He is the co-lead of the Sociable Cities Project which studies how people interact and mingle in public spaces in cities as well as the solidarities that can form in these sites.