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THE PERCEPTION OF PLACE
FACTORS INFLUENCING PERCEPTIONS:
Perception is an individual thing, so people's characteristics determine how they see the
world. These characteristics are things like age, gender, sexuality, religion and role in
society. Education and socio-economic status also has an impact.
AGE: One person's perception of the same place- a park, for example- will probably change
as they get older. How we may see a park when we're five, as a place where we play on the
playground, will be different to how we see it when we're fifty, as a place where we may
take a walk or sit outside.
GENDER: The roles men and women play in different societies may affect how they move
around and the types of places they access. Many places have been defined as `male' and
`female'. "A woman's place is in the home" is a phrase that many bigoted men have used to
set up homes and places within the home as being `female'. In contrast, public places like
sports venues, factories and offices have until very recently been considered `male' places.
Safety is a factor in how people see place. Certain places, like alleyways or places with dim
lighting can be perceived as being `unsafe' for women, leading to that place becoming more
of a `male' place.
SEXUALITY: Sexuality can influence how people use places. Some places acquire meaning
because they're where people in the LGBTQA+ community will gather. In some cities,
LGBTQA+ `zones' have been mapped- `Gay Village' in Manchester or Soho in London. Many
LGBTQA+ `zones' have now almost become ghettos. People of a minority sexuality may
cluster together for security and so that they can be themselves. Like gender, people's
sexuality may determine how they see place because they are also likely to avoid places that
are deemed `unsafe' for them, leading to an emergence of LGBTQA+ and not LGBTQA+
RELIGION: Places have been given spiritual meaning since the start of time. Some natural
landscape features are sacred to certain religious and ethnic groups. For example Uluru
(Ayers Rock) in Australia has a major role in Aboriginal creation stories. The cave paintings at
Lascaux, France, have been interpreted as having magical and religious significance.
Religions have given meaning to places where they worship, and the meaning these places
hold is strictly individual to a person depending on their religion. A synagogue may have no
meaning to a Christian, or a church may have no meaning to an atheist or a mosque may
have little meaning to a Jew, but to the person who worships there, they are incredibly
significant. A single place can have several different spiritual meanings. Jerusalem, for
example, is just one place, but holds smaller places within it of massive religious significance
to Jews, Christians and Muslims simultaneously.
ROLE: We all perform different roles in society at different times. A seventeen year old
could be a student from 8am to 3pm, a son or daughter at home while simultaneously being
a brother or sister at home. The roles we play at any given time can influence our
perception of place. We may go to a nightclub with our friends, but we would never take
our baby sibling there. Our perception of the nightclub has changed with the role we are
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THE INFLUENCE OF EMOTIONAL ATTACHMENT TO PLACE:
We remember places in different ways. Memory is a personal thing because our experiences
are unique to us and our memories are very selective. If you had a really amazing time at a
place or a really horrible time, you'll remember that place very strongly and you may well
forget a place where you only had an okay time. Our memories and feelings are also social
and we receive them as part of a group.…read more