Meanings of place and aspects of the Self: an interdisciplinary and empirical account
2014-10-21T15:16:58Z (GMT) by
Although geographers have largely investigated the notion of place, the relationship between place and Self does not seem to have received a similar attention, both theoretically and empirically. After the initial interest expressed by humanistic geographers, social constructivism and cultural materialism (two dominant paradigms in use since at least the 1980s) have somewhat moved the interest towards a sort of social(izing) discourse, which has pushed the individual dimension to the margin. Accordingly, this dimension has been treated as a mere product of social discourses, as purely embodying and (re)enacting certain social categories (gender, sex, race, etc.) or, again, it has been discredited as psychologically ‘mentalistic’ and geographically ‘trivial’. In the present article, I aim to rescue this personal, intimate dimension and show how, beyond an all-encompassing social(izing) logic, it remains at work in the ways people relate to place. Theoretically, the study builds on the early contributions of humanistic geographic, complemented with more recent works in environmental and social psychology. Empirically, it is grounded in narratives of place collected during interviews and focus groups administered in four regional case studies in Western Europe. The article advances and illustrates, with empirical materials, a simple theoretical framework, which aims to contribute to the understanding of how meanings of place implicate and are implicated in the construction of the Self.