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Study Notes

Changing Places: the Concept of Place

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

Last updated 22 Apr 2017

How do we make sense of a 'place'? Why do different people have a different conception of the same 'place'. And does that mean it's not the 'same place' as far as different people are concerned?

The concept of place

Place is defined as location plus meaning. Location simply describes where a place is on a map whereas meaning is more complex. Each place has a different meaning to different people and is therefore highly personal, experiential and subjective. A sense of place then, refers to those meanings which are associated with a place.

Place can be applied to any scale: from a particular room in a building to a country or region which rouses shared feelings in people. This is particularly noticeable in times of rapid political change (such as the concept of a ‘United Kingdom’)

Place does not necessarily have to be a fixed location spatially or temporally. Every place is a product of its history – formal and personal – and is therefore likely to engender feelings of attachment based on individual life events or distant historical events which are represented in architecture and iconography. People may feel a sense of belonging to a particular house where they grew up or a playground they went to as a child or similarly, may feel attachment to a part of the country where their ancestors came from.

Places are dynamic and subject to constant change in their material structure and meaning. Places are not isolated or cut off from outside influences and so as people, ideas and objects pass in and out of a place in space and time they change it. They are therefore changing places.

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