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chpt 4 - Place and Placelessness.docx

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GEO 106
Maria Piccioni

Chapter 4: Place and Placelessness Sense of Place - “Place” a location in space imbued with unique attributes that set it apart from other places - A place may be characterized by both objective attributes (size, ethnicity and income levels) and subjective attributes (labels big, exiting, or crime ridden) - Places aren’t just rooms, buildings, outdoor spaces or cities, but total environments comprised of physical space, people, furnishings, machines, actions, and meanings - Places form the setting for all the significant and insignificant events in our lives - Phenomenal, personal, and contextual environments are one and the built environment exists only as inseparable between a person and the environment is reciprocal and leads to the notion of behavioural setting o Barker, settings have plans for their inhabitant’s behaviour and inputs are activated within the limits of the setting’s control systems to produce the planned behaviour  Phenomenal environment interacts with social clues to define the situation - Human intent and action ascribe meaning and transform empty “space” into “place” - Places are where we live and where we father our everyday knowledge; they structure our daily routines, provide a site for socialization, and an arena for contesting societal norms - Since places are always changing, places are also processes - People create their own world and seek to excel at front country performance o The cost of excellence is conformity – in dress, vocab, appearance, action and values – so all entering at constrained by the normal of the particular behavioural setting - Places are socially constructed, and therefore both the object and the idea have multiple realities (the definition and meaning of a place changes according to the viewer) - We build up our knowledge of a place from visits, friends, the media, and our professional point of view o When you arrive, you already have an image – which you are then more likely than not to see and experience - When exposed to a new place or subculture, people focus on the new, the exotic, and the idiosyncratic - As you become more of a participant and more of an insider, your views change and you become more aware of the everyday and the mundane – the city becomes the place where we go about our everyday lives, and the place has meaning in relationship to the degree to which people feel inside that place - Outsider views are more unidimensional, insider views are more differentiated - Behind every architectural façade and every lane use zone is the meaning and intent of some individual or group o The objective facts of the phenomenal environment point to the underlying values of the people and society that built them (the contextual environment) - Many cultures view themselves as the centre of the universe, as evidenced in language where there is one word for us as people, and one or more other words for other peoples, indicating their barbarism and relative lack of civilization (compared to us) - Mental maps of individuals are egocentric, countries view the world ethnocentrically - Places then, can be seen as “Centers of felt value” (Tuan 1974) and their very existence depends on our consciousness of them and our intentionality towards them o In the large part, the identity of a place relates to the emotional value attached to it individually or collectively by humans o Cities and parts of the city acquire specific meaning and these meanings influence population movement, patterns of demand, and land values - Yi‐FuTuan (1977) - Figure 4.1 Word Images of Place pp. 81 - Toronto Unlimited / Toronto Live with Culture Topophilia and Topophobia (Yi‐FuTuan) - Places can please or disturb our emotions - Topophilia – they can have positive emotional attachment o Love of place – denotes the affective ties of humans to their environment, particularly the positive emotional responses towards a place o Tuan, topophilia couples sentiment to place – so that people associate particular feelings to particular places, even places they have never seen and even could never see, visit or inhabit, such as worlds like Tolkien’s Middle Earth - Topophobia – they can have negative emotional attachment o The negative meanings and feelings people attach to, and have about places o These places generate anxiety, fear or even suffering o Malcolm Lowry identifies 6 levels of urban topophobia  These 3 levels are associated with “aesthetic-sensory dimension” 1. Placeless: occurs especially in the “squalid, seedy, sameness”, typical of waterfront and airport areas that are the entry of outsiders into cities 2. Sensory overload: cities provide noise, traffic, crowds and smells 3. Inorganic: abundance of machinery, lack of nature and discounting of nature in cities o These 3 levels are associated with “symbolic dimension” 4. Evil: with their “parade of human and animal deformity,” their rootlessness, and their danger to one’s mental health 5. Predatory: not merely a container of evil, but an active participant. The city produces landscapes of fear and kills the soul 6. Civilization: creates these evils, create of deathscapes - Topophilic or Topophobic associations can be generated by any number of place attributes that can be: o Real attributes: real in the sense that a place generates meaning based on historical precedent (either your own or that of others) o Perceived attributes: based on your belief that a particular place or type of place would have good meaning o Contrived attributes: occurs when beliefs are manipulated to create a “sense of place” about some location that marketers consider will appeal to a market segment - Real, perceived, and contrived meanings premised on: o Experiences: of built or non-built environments (fixed, semi fixed, or informal proxemic features) like quaint or ugly buildings, friendly or crowded places, and lively or noise environments, create different meanings depending on whether you a
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