Many experts, especially in social and human scientists including psychologists and philosophers, believe that a place may not be as objective as people think it is(Rollero & De Piccoli, 2010). They believe that a place is more subjective being that it is controlled by the individual’s perception and conception (Rollero & De Piccoli, 2010). These and many more aspects within and in the individual’s environment affect his/her reality in that the person will lack direct access to it. Despite all the factors surrounding the individual and the place, social scientists still believe that there exists an attachment between the person and a place(Anton & Lawrence, 2014). The experts believe that the person creates two bonds with the place including place attachment and place identity(Qingjiu & Maliki, 2013). Therefore, place attachment is an emotional tie one develops with a particular place. Raymond et al. (2010) identify and integrated model towards addressing place attachment. These include the natural, personal and community connections.
It is a multi-disciplinary field that involves social, physical, and psychological aspects. It is therefore as Casakin, Hernández, & Ruiz (2015) explains psychosocial in nature that has its foundation on positive attitudes and emotional or affective ties towards a given local environment. The process is further characterized by social interactions, which are intense and dynamic. It has a close relation with neighborhood attachment which most studies reveal to be a feeling of satisfaction and belonging for one’s residential area whose development is through frequent interactions with neighbors. Lewicka (2008) brings out the place to be an essential component of the environmental branch of psychology. The author believes that there can never be a precise meaning and definition of the place and its differences from space. Despite the lack of a measurement tool for the bonds individuals have towards a place, she believes that there exist these relationships including, place identity, attachment, dependence and much more. Place attachment is, therefore, the bond a person creates with places (Pretty, Chipuer, & Bramston, 2003). There are three components of place attachment including behavioral, cognitive, and affective. However, much emphasis is often on the emotional aspect of the place attachment (Lewicka, 2008). There are numerous studies on place attachment about ages or sex but limited evidence on studies related to gender (Raymond, Brown, & Weber, 2010). Therefore, the paper will mainly focus on gender and its relation to place attachment.
The importance of place attachment
Place attachment dictates an essential part of the individual’s well-being. As Joffe & Smith (2016) indicate, prosperity will depend on various factors including physical and social aspects, which will determine their place attachment. Through a study they conducted in two major cities in Britain Joffe & Smith (2016) identified that these elements are dominant in the views of those who dwell in the towns and what their feelings are of an appropriate city of the future. The responses of participants were also indications of the reasons why people develop attachments to particular places. On the physical aspects, the researchers identified issues such as the appeal of facilities including the municipal, social, retail, and cultural. There was also the aspect of nature where they viewed green and blue to signify health and open spaces and parks to signify places to escape. Transport, well designed and beautiful cities and big vs. small cities were also some of the aspects that came out during the study. On the social side, there was safety and a sense of community (Joffe & Smith, 2016).
Alarasi et al. (2016) develop a paper in which they aim at the incorporation of children in the development of cities. Various factors within the towns will determine the attachment a child creates with the place, and thus the researchers work on revealing the importance of capturing the perception of children in urban development (Bogaç, 2009). The needs of children have often been ignored despite the fact that they have the ability to recognize various issues within a place and give suggestions for solutions (Alarasi, Martinez & Amer, 2016). The researchers move further to identify that the qualities of any child’s environment are often four. They are the physical or social and the positive or negative. Their paper identified various positive social conditions to be secure tenure, cohesive community identity, freedom from social threats and a habit of community self-help. There were positive physical qualities, which included freedom of movement, from physical danger, places for, peer gathering, green area, availability of essential services and a variety of settings for activities (Alarasi, Martinez & Amer, 2016).
They further identified adverse physical qualities to be litter, heavy traffic, and geographical isolation, lack of basic services, limited gathering places, and limited activity settings (Alarasi, Martinez & Amer, 2016). The participants in the study further identified various negative social qualities, which included boredom, fear of crime and harassment, social stigma and exclusion, political powerlessness and racial tensions. von Wirth, Grêt-Regamey, Moser, & Stauffacher, (2016) identify Place attachment as a concept that has three dimensions including the personal characteristics, place characteristics, and psychological processes. A number of studies including Joffe & Smith (2016) and Alarasi, Martinez & Amer (2016) only include the social and physical qualities, which is an indication of the limited literature on personal qualities in relation to place attachment. Therefore, the study will incorporate social, physical, and personal qualities in explaining place attachment to ensure development of an inclusive literature.
Emotional ties in place attachment
Place attachment has a solid foundation on an individual’s emotionality (Raymond et al., 2010). The bonds develop because of the affect one expresses towards various aspects of his/her environment. Raymond et al. (2010) develop an explanation of what place attachment comprises of. They believe that the concept is in two components, which include place identity and place dependence. Place identity as the researchers explain it is a composition of the various dimensions within the self. They include a mixture of feelings and emotions towards different aspects that are physical. They include different symbolic connections that give a precise definition of the person an individual is (Raymond, Brown, & Weber, 2010). Emotions are often because of physical stimuli that people experience. An active stimulus will produce emotions like joy or love. Various neurotransmitters experience alterations within the brain leading to a psychological reaction in one's mind a specifically through the expression of a particular emotion. The negative stimulus will also result in unpleasant emotions including anger, sadness and much more.
It is, therefore, clear that emotional ties have an influence on place attachment. Initial and frequent interaction with a place affects the worldview the individual creates towards the environment (Raymond et al., 2010). Aspects like security and social acceptance will change the type of attachment one creates and in which case the attachment becomes positive (Rollero & De Piccoli, 2010). Negative stimuli during the interaction of one with the place like social isolation will lead to the development of negative emotions. In most instances, the type of emotionality one attaches to something will affect the individual’s overall view. Therefore, place attachment is a human process that depends on emotional ties to a given level. The study will therefore also focus on the influence of emotional ties on place attachment.
Place attachment and place identity
Evidence indicates that the relationship between place attachment and place identity remains to be fuzzy. Many researchers will even use the two terms interchangeably (Hernández, Carmen Hidalgo, Salazar-Laplace, & Hess, 2007). However many of these researchers recognize the importance of place identity as much as they do place attachment (Chow & Healey, 2008). Place identity often stems from the very essence of the place and has an intimate relationship with place attachment. One could say that as an individual develops place attachment, the creation of place identity is inevitable. As Casakin, Hernández, & Ruiz (2015) explain place identity is a significant part of one’s identity of the self and is evident through individual values, ideas, preferences, and objectives that are always relevant to the place. Place identity also manifests through how the person comprehends and understands the place. Hernández, Carmen Hidalgo, Salazar-Laplace, & Hess, (2017) find an intrinsic motivation to place attachment and place identity. They explain that place identity forms an essential part of one’s identity and thus affects the type of attachment on develops with a place. Place identity, therefore, becomes the procedure through which an individual describes him/herself as being part of a particular place through a continue interaction with that place (Hernández, Martín, Ruiz, & Hidalgo, 2010). The researchers, however, identify the issue lack of clarity to the relationship that exists between place attachment and place identity (Qingjiu & Maliki, 2013).
The concepts may appear similar, and in some instances, people use them as synonyms. In other cases, the attachment is operationalized regarding identity. Some individuals may view one component as including the other for example place attachment may be recognized as an element of place identity. However, in a broader sense place attachment is regarded as a multidimensional construct that includes dependence on place, place attachment and many social bonds (Rollero & De Piccoli, 2010). The study therefore, will, work on defining conceptually and critically the relationship that is present between place attachment and place identity.
The formation of relationships with the environment
Lewicka (2017) recognizes the presence of various aspects within the place an individual is attached to. They include neighborhoods, region, country, continent, open vs. closed, open vs. gated, the type of social place and capital, preferences that are individually differentiated and much more. All these concepts are part of one’s environment, and they often work as determinants of the type of relationship the individual creates with his/her environment. About this, Joffe & Smith (2016) talk about personal preferences of future cities, and this stems down to the environment. Personal well-being is dependent on the environment, and negative environmental factors like carbon emissions affect the quality of one’s well-being. Therefore, it is safe to say that people will create relationships with the environment; it is the whole essence of place attachment. However, the type and quality of the relationship that develops highly lean on various aspects within and outside the environment.
About the environment, Lewicka (2010) recognizes various factors that surround the formation of bonds with one's environment. These include the scale of the place, the neighborhood, the home, or dwelling and the city or district. They are pillars of an individual’s environment and the relationship created is dependent on various factors within these pillars including social ties, family and socio-economic status and much more. Alarasi, Martinez, & Amer (2016) take a different look at the issue of relationship formation with the environment. Their focus is on children and the environment not only the physical but the emotional too. They believe that those children from urban areas suffer neglect especially when identifying factors to consider for city construction and development. Their emphasis is more on understanding various behavior settings for children than just a general look at their personal characteristics.
It is essential to get a precise picture of the environmental preferences of children to enable them to develop healthy relationships with particular environments they interact with. It calls for the inclusion of what they prefer especially in urban area environments throughout the construction and development process. It will ensure that they do not feel like outsiders but can easily identify with the particular environment. The current study will, therefore, analyze the formation of relationships with the environment and put into consideration individuals of all ages and not just adults.
Gender differences in cities
Gender variations are often strong determinants of various preferences individuals have. Place attachment, especially in the towns, is no different as it also varies according to gender. In a study carried out by Alarasi, Martinez & Amer (2016) on the perception of cities by children, they identified that though not so significant, there existed differences in preferences between boys and girls. One of the major differences was in the language use especially adjectives where male children would use terms like friendly while girls used pretty. Gils also had their opinion that differed with that of the boys concerning the city centre. The found it unfriendly because they were uncomfortable with the unwanted attention that was present in some areas they accessed. It was an indication of the difference in perception of safety between the boys and the girls. The boys had a higher sense of security in general compared to the girls. Generally, women will care more about safety and therefore create a place attachment to areas they feel their security is guaranteed.
The social identity theory indicates individual preferences for what members of a similar group prefer. People find motivation in finding self-esteem, which helps in the achievement and maintenance of a social identity that is positive. Gender divides individuals into groups that people identify with. The preferences will differ from one group to the next, and a group will always go for what works on the development of individual self-esteem and what makes them get a sense of belonging not only to the group but also within the environment. It is a social psychology precept that indicates a form of in-group favoritism. Therefore, city identification and evaluation will get a positive relation based on the concept. It is an indication that if individuals from one gender affiliation identify with a given city, their assessment of the city will be active.
Gender also determines particular emotionality with female individuals being characterized to more emotionally reactive than males. The characteristic will also trickle down to the preferences the two groups have of the cities they choose. The various gender characteristics also affect the differences within cities. Both males and females will have a town they prefer over another and in an instance where they go for a similar city; there are certain aspects of the city that men would prefer more to women. The significant difference presents a gender impact on personal choices. It is the reason why the study will introduce the issue of gender and various aspects of gender. It will go further to determine its relationship to place attachment and place identity. The study also aims at understanding the perceptions of place attachment within gender.
The current study
All these factors and much more, necessitate a rise in the need to explore a gender-focused research on place attachment specifically on the social, physical, and personal qualities. The study focuses on identifying the various perceptions of place attachment within gender. Various issues lead to the research including the lack of clear definitions of place attachment. Numerous studies are available on place attachment on neighborhoods. It is the primary unit where researchers deem appropriate to identify place attachment and all its precepts. Up to seventy percent of the current studies focus on neighborhoods (Raymond et al., 2010). On the other hand, research is limited on place attachment within gender of cities. Evidence indicates that studies on cities only total up to ten percent of the papers on this area (Morgan, 2010). The study also aims at taking a focus on gender. There is still limited literature focusing on gender and place attachment. Alarasi, Martinez & Amer (2016) conduct a study on the preferences of children, and their research focuses on the choices the participants make with relation to their gender. Most studies dealing with people demographics often focus only on age and sex.
The study concentrates on various qualities including social, physical, and personal while leaning towards gender. It, therefore, adopts the framework of the study carried out by Alarasi, Martinez & Amer (2016) which contains the gender perspective for the study. The study employs the use of the QGIS mixed-method approach, which is appropriate in identifying different aspects of the constructs under study. The current study will, therefore, identify the social and physical qualities using a combination of both qualitative and quantitative methods. There is also the incorporation of personal qualities within the study. Therefore, the paper aims at also adopting the format by Joffe & Smith (2016) who employ the use of the Social Representations Theory (SRT) framework to develop personal qualities in reaction to place attachment. Therefore, the study will integrate both structures to ensure that the results generated are efficient.
The study adopts the tripartite theory in its explanation of the available data. The theory proposes three dimensions of place attachment including person, place dimensions and psychological process (Gifford & Scannell, 2017). These aspects work together and individual in place attachment. One concept will contribute to the stability of the other. The central research question for the study is “what are the perceptions of place attachment within gender?” An exploratory study will focus on developing literature on gender about place attachment within cities. It is a new area of research within place attachment, and there is limited evidence to indicate the association between the two concepts. The study, therefore, focuses on exploring the issue of gender to develop new literature. The research adopts the methodology used by Joffe & Smith (2016) and Alarasi, Martinez & Amer (2016) in their studies on place attachment. The study utilizes the data available in these studies, which were acquired through carrying out interviews with the participants. Gender, age, ethnic groups, and social, economic classes all at an equal level selected the members. The current study adopts and uses social and physical qualities from the coding frameworks developed by Joffe & Smith (2016) and Alarasi, Martinez & Amer (2016). The research goes further to develop and incorporate a third dimension on personal qualities. The study adopts transcription and coding frameworks for both the Joffe & Smith study and that by Alarasi, Martinez & Amer (2016). Both coding frameworks will ensure that all aspects the study is trying to develop are incorporated including the social, physical, and personal qualities, which are present in both studies.
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