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An exploration of place as a process: The case of Jackson Hole, WY

Journal of Environmental Psychology
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.jenvp.2005.12.003


Abstract A variety of theoretical positions and frameworks have been advanced to account for how places become “places”—in other words, how places become meaningful. Most existing frameworks share the idea that a place is a complex concept, given life by people attaching meaning to a physical setting in a variety of ways. This paper explores how places evolve as ever-shifting points of meaning that mark changes in people's lives in response to a variety of influences. Data collected from in-depth personal interviews in and around Jackson, Wyoming, are used to explore the conceptualization of place as a process, rather than a static entity. Three key themes or dimensions that were frequently described by interviewees are examined: (1) life stage/course, (2) searching for a feeling, and (3) commitment to a place. Not only did some respondents describe what made places important to them (the components, such as social ties, or favorite activities), they also described how these attributes worked together to create and maintain place meanings over the course of their lives. During the interviews, it was noted that these dimensions and processes were expressed explicitly as well as implicitly.

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