How do we understand place?


How do we understand place?

  • Place - something defined by perceptions.
  • Space - the space between two places, e.g. the North Atlantic Ocean between New York and London (although those who work in the ocean, e.g. deep-sea fishermen, view it as a workplace; thus, one person's 'space' might be another person's 'place').

The perception of place

Factors influencing perceptions

  • Perception is an individual thing.


  • People's perceptions change as they get older - for example, a park is for swings for a child, whereas a park is for skating for a teenager.
  • Many people move through a life cycle that involves changing their residence and therefore where they might live - young people may move to city centres as they start to live independently from their family; adults may move to suburbs so they can raise their families with more space, a nice garden, etc.; retirees may downsize their accomodation or migrate to smaller centres or quieter surburbs due to a reduced need for accomodation and peace and quiet possibly being regarded as a priority by some people.


  • Traditionally, many places have been defined as being 'male' or 'female'.
  • A woman's place is in the home' - Female private place.
  • Contrasted with many male public spaces, such as:
  • Factories, offices, sporting events' crowds - Male public spaces.
  • Such divisions among places reflect the way society sees male and female roles - in the U.K., for example, married women were not employed in the civil service nor by many local government offices until WWII.
  • Safety:
  • Certain places can be perceived as 'unsafe' and therefore some people avoid these routes, neighbourhoods or places on the basis of their gender.
  • Places which are isolated or dark and late night public transport can represent a 'geography of fear' for some people and may restrict their personal geography, especially if on their own.
  • Urban geographies of fear are also influenced by…


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