Problem

Unmeaningful relationships to place

Other Names:
Disregard for place
Ignorance of locale
Lost local knowledge
Ignorance of local environment
Lost vernacular knowledge
Ignorance of place
Loss of a sense of place
Alienation from vernacular environments
Placelessness
Declining bonds to place
Lost sense of at-homeness
Nature:
The knowledge that people had of the places in which they lived is being lost. There is increasing ignorance of geography, whether international, national or local, accompanied by an ephemeral commitment of people to their home places. Such knowledge is disparaged by the academic world as "folk culture". Modern bonds to place are significant in that place provides the context for other meaningful relationships to develop, and, as these develop, place becomes more meaningful itself. However, this process is jeopardized by the way in which place ties are currently formed. It is affected negatively by such factors as individual mobility; whether place itself changes; whether there is some autonomy over the public or private "space" involved, as in home or office; and whether there is time for reflection among long-time residents and between like-minded groups. People therefore lose ties to place that come through long residential and ancestral connections to a specific locale.

The association with places over a long time can build feelings of security and at-homeness. Individual personalities and lives are diminished without the development of strong social networks and ties within a place. The fabric of a community may be altered when there are few people left to ensure continuity and a sense of historical context in relation to the place. Other forces at work in modern society may do additional damage to feelings of being-in-place. Mass media, consumerism and international styles of architecture cause of homogenization of culture makes many urban places similar in material form through symbolization that is not tied to local culture. A sense of "dwelling" is often lacking in that the organic wholeness of place has become fractured. Modern landscapes and cityscapes tend to create an environment without significant places. Regional differences are also diminishing in the face of national media resulting in "no sense of place".

Incidence:
Many people have an increasingly high mobility, moving every few years, so that the formation of bonds to any one place is difficult. In 1985 it was estimated that half the population of the USA relocates once in every 5 year period. An earlier estimate indicated that the average American moves 14 times in a lifetime.
Claim:
Increasingly the number of people with firsthand experience of their local environment dwindles. Rural populations continue to shift to the cities. This results in a loss of personal and local knowledge. The knowledge from which a real geography is derived, and the knowledge on which a country must ultimately stand, has in consequence come to be something hard to define.
Problem Type:
F: Fuzzy exceptional problems
Date of last update
01.01.2000 – 00:00 CET
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