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Study Notes

Insider and Outsiders Perspectives on a Place

AS, A-Level
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

Insiders and outsiders have different perspectives on a place.

Place is a social construct, not a physical location, and this can invoke feelings of being ‘in place’ or ‘out of place’. These feelings may stem from demographic factors such as place of birth, residence or age – or they may come from socio-psychological factors such as gender, sexuality, religion, ethnicity or role in society.

Dominant political and economic groups tend to project their power onto a place through its architecture and functions which have the effect of excluding some groups of people: they feel ‘out of place’ in that location. London Docklands is a clear example of this with its wholesale change of economic function from docks to financial centre during the 1980s with a parallel change in social characteristics. Affluent business people feel ‘comfortable’ there when some other groups do not.

Even within one location, there may be places where some groups of people feel more welcome than others. Immigrant populations often form spatially close-knit communities in response to feelings of exclusion from often nearby neighbourhoods. They may experience a place very differently to non-immigrant groups. The same is true of gay communities. Both groups of people will perceive a place in a different way to the dominant socio-economic group.

A place may also be experienced differently within a day. An area of a town where there are lots of office blocks and apartments is likely to be perceived very differently by employees during the day and by residents at night. The same is true of a busy shopping area of a town which has restaurants and bars interspersed. The same group of people is likely to feel both an ‘insider’ and an ‘outsider’ in that place at different times of day.

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