6. Place Identity
Do you connect to your community?
Do you dance in your local park?
"Exploring place meaning by primarily
examining experiences of the residence or rootedness in a
community leads us to assume that those who do not have
strong, positive affective bonds with their residence are
placeless." -Study at
The University of New South Wales
Place, Identity and Difference - GEOH3621
School: Built Environment Geography
Issues of place, identity, territory and representation. Case studies
cover a range of axes of difference including religion, place, gender,
sexuality, nationalism and popular culture. Key theories of identity.
Creative and official representations of places and of peoples. The
deployment and representation of cultural difference.
Creating Place Identity: It's Part of
By Jeanette Joy Fisher
For years, environmental and social psychologists have
been studying a concept known as place identity. The
concept deals with the interaction between the question
of who we are and where we are, and how our local
environment, including geographical location, ethnic
traditions, family heritage, and educational background
influence our lives.
As human beings, we all have a desire to feel as if we
belong to a social and cultural community. We long for a
feeling of attachment, of being rooted in a particular
place, and of feeling as if we have ownership of
something significant in our lives. In order to achieve
those feelings, our psyche connects to certain places,
thereby increasing our sense of self-esteem and
happiness, creating a sense of belonging that can best
be termed as feeling at home.
That's one reason why the first thing most folks do when
they buy a new home is make a significant change, such
as painting one or more rooms or changing the color of
the carpet. As humans, we feel an instinctive need to
personalize the places we live...a place identity.
Of course, the need to personalize a new space isn't
reserved for home buyers. Apartment dwellers also get a
sense of fulfillment as they begin to fill an empty
space with their belongings. They're more limited in
what they can do, but they still take pride in turning a
new apartment their own space. The only difference is
the amount of personalization a homeowner can do.
Creating a place identity allows us to feel as if we
have more control over our lives. There are many things
in life that are beyond our control, but creating our
immediate personal living environment is one thing we
can do to feel more empowered and safe.
Although Americans move more than folks in other
countries, if you're thinking about moving, examine your
reasons. Are you moving just to "move up," leaving
friends, family, and neighbors you may have known for a
long time? If you love your current home but need more
space, consider adding on. It's generally much cheaper,
and your cherished sense of place will remain in tact.
If you still want to move, look for a community that you
could call home for a long time, possibly forever. Drive
around the area, looking for a neighborhood that speaks
to something inside. It can be difficult to quantify,
but you'll know it when you feel it. Something will just
whisper "home" to you.
Then seek out community-building activities, such as
concerts in the park. They can be wonderful ways to
connect with people in your area and further strengthen
your sense of place. There's also something about
learning your way around town that gives you an
increased sense of power and security.
No matter where you are now or where you'll be in the
future, one thing is certain. You'll instinctively work
to create a place identity that speaks to you. You'll
always feel the need to add your own personal touches to
make it feel more like home...that's what being human is
For more about Place Identity, read the
The Power of Home.
Copyright © 2006 Jeanette J. Fisher
7. Architectural Psychology