definition of Space vs Place

From Wiley-Blackwell Guide to Human Geography

… According to Yi Fu Tuan, specialist in human geography, “The ideas ‘space’ and ‘place’ require each other for definition:

“Space is more abstract than place. What begins as undifferentiated space becomes ‘place’ as we get to know it better and endow it with value. … From the security and stability of place we are aware of the openness, freedom, and threat of space, and vice versa. Furthermore, if we think of space as that which allows movement, then place is pause; each pause in movement makes it possible for location to be transformed into place.

In Tuan’s view…place refers to the process by which every day life is inscribed in space and given meaning for specific groups of people and their organizations. P’ace is thus created from space when people care about it, either positively or negatively— when they invested with their time, money, fear, anxiety, love, and antagonism. This is what Tuan means when he describes place as a “field of care” and distinguishes it from the more impersonalized arena of space. Although places are typically perceived as local, due primarily to the sense of familiarity that we associate with them, there is no inherent reason to limit our thinking to this scale. “Place exists at different scales” Tuan writes, “at one extreme a favorite armchair is a place, at the other extreme the whole earth.”


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