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chpt 2 - Environment & Perception.docx

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GEO 106
Maria Piccioni

Chapter 2: Environment & Perception - We are dealing with people and environments – more specifically we are dealing with how people perceive environments – often how they create them in their minds – and then react toward them - The city is comprised of multiple layers of environments. Some are obvious to the eye, but others are more subtle: the ethnic landscapes (some more obvious than others), the economic landscapes, the social landscapes, the quality of life landscapes, the authority (or legal) landscapes, even the soundscapes and mental maps we all have The Urban Smorgasbord of People - People come in many different ways: culture, gender, economics, ethnicity, personalities, and perceptions are all either very different or not so different from us, as the case may be - When different, they give different points of view that give rise to the different interpretations of a given environment o Ex. Old mature oak trees in the private garden of a high income home by high park – for some may be seen as a resource worthy of saving, regardless of ownership, but to the owner it‟s seen as blocking the view and cut down, much to the outrage of people, to conservationists – the trees were the view, and had a right to exist - We can‟t seek an objective truth, b/c no single truth exists - We can‟t seek an objective interpretation of an environment b/c it simply doesn‟t exist - When one finds unanimity on an issue, it‟s b/c the group agrees that this particular relative interpretation is right for the group, not that it‟s universally right or true - Conflicts arise when groups begin to change, new people need a truth and will either embrace, replace or modify yours Defining Environment - Everyone has their own idea of what environment means, and most of those ideas revolve around some loose interpretation of the physical environment: environment means the natural world - Environment can be seen as a set of “things” and as a set of “conditions” - As a set of things, environment can be subdivided into 3 basic categories: o The physical environment – the natural or physical world not created by humans. Humans modify the world. o The built environment – physical world that is built by humans, our buildings, roads, reservoirs, canals, etc. This environment is highly visible (may be fairly invisible as with water mains, sewers, and gas pipelines), and while it differs from culture to culture, the goals of creating it are similar – shelter, production, interaction o The socio-economic environment – the behavioural world created by humans: our economic systems, cultural systems, value systems, etc. This environment is usually intangible, not highly visible. Often has a built component, subtle in its manifestation o Phenomenal environment – the physical context in which behaviour takes place (the physical manifestations of the natural, the built and the socio-economic environments are studied with respect to how they got to look the way they do and what the interrelationships between them are) o Behavioural environment – the psychological context in which behaviour takes place  Personal environment – the psychology and physiology of the individual (their past experiences, needs, desires, attitudes, values, preferences, and perceptions in relationship to the current environment)  Contextual environment – the attitudes, and values of various subgroups of society. Influences your spatial decisions as others in your environment match or don‟t match, your various identities, various expectations of others as subgroups based on their age, ethnicity, gender, and stage in lifecycle, life- level and lifestyle o Lifecycle – where a person is on their journey from birth to death. Age and family status are important. These stages influence attitudes, needs, and desires o Life-level – social class and measured by some combination of income, education, and occupation. Differences among lower, middle and upper class are recognized. Life-level may be seen as environmental competence based upon wealth and access to power and various other resources o Lifestyle – may be seen as one-way of living and is rather difficult to define and measure. Income and expenditures, time-budges and daily life space provide some info. Lifestyle can transcend life-level and lifecycle. One researcher suggested familism (strong orientation toward family), consumerism (toward acquisition of material g&s) and careerism (toward career) as a 3-part classification of lifestyles. Others distinguish between inner city and suburban lifestyles. Ethnicity, religion, and sexual preference may also help create different lifestyles. Hippies, yuppies, punks and generation X. - The phenomenal, personal and contextual environments are interrelated – so societal preferences for certain types of agriculture show up on satellite photographs as abrupt changes in field size and shape and in crop type. - The notion of target markets suggests that groups can influence individual shopping preferences, while in the opposite direction individuals and sub-groups within society may influence the whole society as with various rights (woman, gay, black power, disabled, grew power, anti-fat oppression) movements - Kirk (1963) suggested that “decision making has its roots in the behavioural not the phenomenal environment” o Important observation b/c it tells us where to begin our exploration of urban landscapes – inside people‟s heads o Everything differs, lifestyle, demographics, etc. they all change as we move through stages of the lifecycle, adding one more complication Sonnenfeld’s Model - Sonnenfeld‟s (1972) model of nested environments allows us to see how much (or little) the world we really have knowledge of or can affect, and how much of it affects us. - Model has 4 hierarchically nested environments 1. Geographical environment – the sum total of all environments 2. Operational environment – part of the earth that can affect us, but about which we may know nothing 3. Perceptual environment – part of the world we perceive or know about 4. Behavioural environment – part of the world that affects us as we affect it directly - Sonnenfeld‟s environments change in dimension depending on the people whom they affect o Ex. The perceptual environment may be much smaller for disadvantaged people due to lack of education, money or freedom to move where they please due to race, gender or disability  These constraints limit their opportunity to learn about their world, and their capacity to make informed decisions - Figure 2.3 Sonnenfeld’s Environments – Joseph Sonnenfeld (1972) pp. 26 o Higher level socio-economic groups would have larger behavioural and perceptual environments o Lower level socio-economic groups would have smaller behavioural perceptual environments Porteous’s Model - Porteous (1977) presents a conceptual structure based on social spaces - Divides the world into 5 social spaces: Type of Space Interaction Proxemic Knowledge Source of Knowledge Distances of Space of Space Home Base Familial Space Continuous Intimate High Frist hand experience (core of home daily base) Home Base Neighbourhood Intermittent Personal High Primarily first hand, Space (periphery daily/weekly but also second-hand of home base) Home Economic Space Continuous Personal Fairly high, Varies widely between Range (highly frequented (work) or business but first and second-hand, part of human intermittent decreasing but is more second- range) (shopping) from home hand than in daily/weekly and work – neighbourhood space selective Home Urban Space (less Intermittent Business Very Primarily second-hand frequented part of public selective and with selective first- Range home range) limited hand interpretations Global World Space Infrequent Business Usually very Almost exclusively Range limited second-hand - The dimensions of, and degree to which characteristics are evident in, these spaces vary according to stage in the lifecycle, type of lifestyle, and life-level attained, all of which vary with ethnicity, income and demographics - Microterritory – can be thought of as the territory of proxemics, that is a person‟s personal space and the varying distances that are kept around that person in different situations - Mesoterritory – the territory of home base: home and neighbourhood - Macroterritory – is home range (places a person interacts with at least occasionally) also called activity space (the territory of a person‟s activity system – those places the person visits and traverses through as they go about their everyday life) - Roughly equivalent to Porteus‟ economic and urban space – these places are visited and travelled through on a regular basis (economic space) or on a less frequent basis (urban space) o If the aggregate economic and urban spaces for all the people in the city was plotted, we approximate the daily urban space – activity space for the whole city, if you will – the weekday life of the city o Urban field – used to represent the nested hierarchy of daily, weekly and seasonal life of the city – includes the normal recreational weekend places of urban dwellers (cottage, ski country) Perception and Cognitive Filtering - Perception: How you see the real world, how you react and appreciate real life activity - Environmental perception – a person‟s subjective experiential evaluation of the phenomenal environment that surrounds them, revealing their consciousness of it and their intentionality towards the objects that constitute it o Translated from „jargonese‟ environmental perception means one‟s own private mental image of, and reaction towards reality o Decision making is affect not so much by an objective reality
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