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What is sense of place?




Cross, Jennifer E., author

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As noted in the call for this year’s papers, "Sense of place has become a buzzword used to justify everything from a warm fuzzy appreciation of a natural landscape to the selling of homesites in urban sprawl. The truth is we probably have no single "sense of place;" instead, we bring to the places we live a whole set of cultural preconceptions that shape the way we respond to the place, and in some measure reshape the place to fit those preconceptions…." This lack of a common definition or understanding of sense of place, results both from the fact that it has become a buzzword used to suit various purposes, and from the interdisciplinary nature of the concept. To provide a little background for the use of the term, I will review some of the definitions used by various social scientists, and then review my own contribution to that literature by summarizing and expanding on a few of the ideas presented at last year’s Headwaters Conference.


Prepared for the 12th Headwaters Conference Western State College, November 2-4, 2001.

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sense of place
place attachment
community attachment
spirit of place


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