In this post I offer a general overview of the range of different ideas about sense of place.
Some of its important variations, such as a poisoned sense of place and a global sense of place, I intend to cover in more detail in future posts. Topics are: I intend to discuss some of these (e.g.
For young children geographical experience is constrained, mostly to house and immediate surroundings, so sense of place is tightly focused with few comparisons; for adults place experience are extensive, regional, even global, with numerous comparisons; for the elderly sense of place become increasingly constrained as mobility declines.
Sense of place has varied over the course of history, especially as technologies of communications have changed.
Joshua Meyerowitz’ book (Silverbrook Press, Warrington, 1985) was an investigation of what people think of where they live, based on many interviews he conducted in the town of Towcester in the Midlands of England.
The results allowed him to differentiate several different senses of place.
It is often used in two apparently contradictory ways.
One refers to a human faculty that grasps the distinctive subtleties of different bits of the world and helps us to find our way around; the other is about particular qualities of bits of the world.
“Hawaiians have a deeply anchored sense of place, of ‘my place’ and ‘your place.’ They take of their place, and respect your place, and know the difference.” This is not going backward but tapping into ancestral memory to promote ecological humility and responsibility.
But it is also a sense that can be enhanced through critical attention to what makes places distinctive, how they have changed and how they might be changed.