Theoretical Approaches to Place

Place can be studies in different ways, but there are three main geographical approaches:

Descriptive Approach: Idea that the world is a set of places and each place can be studied and is distinct from other places.

Social Constructionist Approach: Sees place as product of a certain set of social processes which occur at a particular time – for example, Trafalgar Square was built to commemorate the British naval victory in 1800s, so may be understood as a place of empire and colonialism.

Phenomenological Approach: interested in how individuals experience place and recognises a highly personal relationship between place and person – not interested in unique characteristics or reasons a place was created. Yi-Fu Tuan developed term ‘topophilia’ meaning the affective bond between people and place – we get to know places through human perception.