Reaction to “Place” article

The article begins by describing the word “place” as being a simple term but at the same time being a term that is also “one of the most contested terms in human geography.” Why is that? I don’t understand how a word as simple as “place” could be so hard to define. When I think of place, I focus on specific areas (my favorite locations to be) like my home, my lake cottage and my favorite cities. Like myself, the author also describes the meaning of the word place as pertaining to similar ideologies, however, the author also states that  there is more than just one “conceptualization of place.” The author describes 5 concepts of place: physical locations, cultural or social locations, place as context, place as constructed over time and place as process. The first two concepts I understand and they make sense to me. A physical location for me would be St. Louis, MO and a social location for me would be my lake cottage, but what do the others mean? Based on what the article states, place as context refers to “social, political, economic, and cultural relations that characterize” a certain location. After reading that part of the article, I can relate this idea to the topic that was discussed in class of “When does a space become a place?” We ad decided that a space becomes a place when “social” characteristics are added to the mix. This idea allowed me to wrap my mind around the meaning of place as context. I understood place as socially constructed through time by comparing it to history (like the article describes). The gateway arch is a symbol that everyone knows. It’s existence was to help symbolize the westward expansion of the United States. Not only is this a physical place, a cultural place and a place as context but it also falls into the category of place as socially constructed through time. The final issue was understanding place as a social process. For me, the meaning behind this encompasses the other four concepts that were described earlier. After getting an idea of what each conceptualization means, I know go back to my original, why is place one of the most contested terms in human geography? After analyzing all of the meanings behind the five conceptualizations, I would conclude that place should only need one definition. By combining all of the five concepts into one idea, we get the definition that comes straight from the Webster’s Dictionary, “A building or locality used for a special purpose.” To me, this article makes me think of the conversation we had in class on January 15, 2014 about trying to get a better understanding of what class participation meant. Both groups had there own ideas but when they both collaborated, we were able to come up with a rough draft idea of what we wanted and we did that by combining our different definitions to make one concrete definition. The author is discussing how place can be described many different ways but when we look at the big picture, all of the ideas and definitions could be condensed into one, “simple” meaning.

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