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Leslie Wasson

Subject Geography
Sociology » Sociological and Social Theory

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


The concept of place is used three ways in sociology. First, there is the microsociological concept of place as a material location; a fixed, bounded site which can be identified with a particular set of situated expectations and behaviors. A second use of the term refers to the identification or attachment an individual develops to a particular location, usually geographical, which has an influence on his or her ongoing self-identity. A third use of the term refers to the niche in the social stratification system in which the individual belongs. It also would be possible to confuse the term place with the very similar term space. However, these are different ideas ( Gieryn 2000 ; Tuan & Hoelscher 2001 ). Place refers to a specific location in the physical or cultural world and the attributes of that setting or niche. Space refers to the amount of physical or social distance that is maintained among the social actors. In the first use of the term place, much interaction theory rests on the pioneering work of Erving Goffman (1959, 1961, 1963) and his development of dramaturgical theory. Goffman's treatment of social settings as staging areas for the enactment of social scripts demonstrated the importance of places in the social construction of reality. Participant observation or fieldwork studies often contain elements of place or setting as integral framing concepts in their ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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