Place

The word “place” is used as part of every day speech by just about everyone. Despite this fact, we never really give any thought as to what it really means when we use it. This is expected with the average person as they have become accustomed to its vague usage, but to geographers, it is worth more meaning than a simple placeholder. Once you really start to think about it, it really is difficult to come to some sort of consensus on an acceptable, descriptive definition. Because the term “place” is as vague as it sounds, there are many different approaches when trying to define it, and every definition has true elements. In the first part of the article, place is defined through five conceptualizations: as physical location, cultural/social location, context, constructed over time, and process. Personally, my favorite of these five is place as constructed over time. Because place has so many different viewpoints, the concept of place has become very complex when trying to define it in a way that hits all major points. I feel like when we look at place as being something socially constructed over time, we do in fact hit all of the major points that make place what it really is. As it states in this section of the article, place is dynamic and changing. Place has meaning through humans, and humans change over time. As we change, so do the “places” that we give meaning to. As the article also states, years of human activity, or layers, construct the built and social forms that constitute place. In other words, no two people will see a place as exactly the same. This description of place also gives us the sense of history along with future.

The article also talks about place and politics. There is no doubt that politics affects place, in many ways both positive and negative. When analyzing politics in place, it can be a way of highlighting the common interests of the residents. This creates the sense of unity, as it brings a group together socially in the context for action, along with the physical location of these residence. In contrast to this, I found it interesting that just a bit further in the article, it is mentioned how the characteristics of place, physical and social, deny and/or limit access to certain types of people and certain types of behavior and thereby limit or constrain the “public.” Does “place” limit us? Has this complex idea that we have created actually create barriers on society and the ways we think and connect? Or are we just thinking too hard?

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