Place: A Short Introduction by Tim Creswell

Place can simply be defined as the lived experience of space, however to call somewhere a place suggests ownership and strong sense of connection with a person or location with a define sense of belonging. This can be explored and divided into 3 areas

  • Location
  • Locale
  • Sense of place (Agnew, John 1987)

Locale meaning the material aspects and settings that shape the place in question and how that impacts of the place or individual. (2004:7) In regards to Berlin the locale would be the political conflict and the impact left in Berlin physical and psychological and whether those effects are still attached to Berlin and how this changes the habitus.

This was described as Topophila a term meaning ‘affective bond between people and place’ (Tuan 1974) He views space and place in terms of movement; place is a resting movement the stage being becoming involved in the space and space is the area of action. This complex definition suggests that place is more focused on the action and interactivity conducted in the place, than any personal connection to the place. (2004:20)

Whereas Relph argues that place can only be determined by ‘the essence’ of a place changes it status from just what or where (2004:23) the essence could construct and apparent when personal connection is applied for instance the Berlin wall physical represented and divided the city but too individual would hold very contrasting and various to individuals who lived in East/West Berlin. The essence is the interactions  in the place and further the social, historical and urbanised aspects that contribute to what Berlin is today in terms of place. Relph also considers the important of a sense of identity in relationship to place, ‘to be inside a  place is to belong’ (1976:49:44) to share a sense of belonging with a place that will very different for any individual, for the research project this is an area to be explored and gain an understanding of Berliners today who inhabit the city and what previous generation feel about Berlin based on their experiences.

Although other scolars argue that place is directly connected to socially constructions ‘the very fabric of place is  product of society too’ (2004:30) Harvey states that space and time is a social construct based on everyday life and the daily routines can solely create a place , this depends on communities and the geography of a city. Geography of a city can sometimes follows structures already in set for instance routes and paths or dictated by the geography and cities are more than often developed to increase and promote tourism. This maybe the case in Berlin as the urbanisation of Berlin which through consumer society is far more developed  in showcasing the history of Berlin through tourist outlets (museuns etc) however still continuously hosts cultural event ‘investment in consumption spectacles’ (Harvey 1998:298:59) this is juxtaposed by conflicting opinions such as Pred who claims that ‘places are never finished but always becoming’ (Pred 1984:279:35) this suggests place can be explained and developed further through growing consumer society, in terms of Berlin is highly fitting as Karl Scheffler was famously quoted stating Berlin is constantly in the process of ‘becoming and never to be’ (1910)


The ideology of consumer society is further developed in terms of ‘placelessness’ basically a place built for a purpose and repeated in numerous place for instance on small-scale would be  high street shops in most cities, these store branches add to consumers society and are familiar in society with set demographic  and expectation e.g. Topshop; a high street store the layout and designs of the shops all targeting the same young female audiences which can be experience by both ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’ of a city.  On larger scale repetition of a place would be Disney World;  that is constructed for ‘outsiders’ to embrace and visit either in Paris, Florida, Japan etc It offers an experience that creates a memory with the place as well as being player in consumer society. (2004:45)

More on Massey

 In this book Massey’s identifies factors relating to space; firstly a connection with the personal with the place and a singular form of identity (as discussed), secondly a desire to show the rooted history of a place, unlike with Berlin that attempts to hide the rich political history of the city. Finally a set of boundaries to separating from the outside world (2004:72) in the case of Berlin there are the long-standing physical boundaries and what people may associate Berlin with an era of conflict and war.


Creswell,Tim Place: A short introduction, Blackwell publishing,2004

Scheffler,Karl , Berlin Ein Stadtschicksal ,University  of California 1910



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