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UAL Research Online

Location as a Sense of Place: Everyday Life, Mobile and Spatial Practices in Urban Spaces

Ozkul, Didem (2015) Location as a Sense of Place: Everyday Life, Mobile and Spatial Practices in Urban Spaces. In: Mobility and Locative Media: Mobile Communication in Hybrid Spaces. Routledge, New York, NY, pp. 101-116.

Type of Research: Book Section
Creators: Ozkul, Didem

Physical mobility and information and communication technologies (ICTs) have altered the perception of space and time. They influence the way we perceive distances as shrinking (Harvey 1989) or increasing (Giddens 1990), by providing the users of these technologies with a possibility of communication while on the move. Although the use of ICTs may lead to a false perception of location and distance as less important, “distance still matters a lot to people, as does place” (Bærenholdt and Granås 2008: 7). Mobile communication technologies foster attachment to places by creating a renewed interest in location. Networking and mobile technologies can “only contribute to material, social and cultural reconfigurations of places and distances” (ibid.) and therefore they have the potential to influence what a place represents and embodies for its inhabitants. Research on mobile communication technologies has focused on changes in social and spatial practices of everyday life (Goggin and Hjorth 2009; Ling and Campbell 2009). Mobile technologies are questioned concerning the large extent to which they blur the lines between public and private space, work and personal life, and coordinate for social networking (Ling and Campbell 2009;; Lee 2009;; Humphreys 2008). With locative media, the focus of mobile media research has shifted toward the analysis of location-­based applications and their use in everyday life (de Souza e Silva and Sutko 2009; Humphreys 2007; Humphreys and Liao 2011;; Licoppe and Inada 2009). Although recent scholarly works explain locative media use in relation to theories of space (Gordon and de Souza e Silva 2011; Wilken and Goggin 2012), further empirical study is needed to explore how people actually use locational information in everyday life.

Thinking of this gap in the mobile and locative media literature, I conducted thirty in-­depth interviews with smartphones users in London during the year 2011.1 London’s inhabitants are cosmopolitan in nature, and maintain a complex network of social ties, both near and distant, which are maintained by using mobile phones. Hence, London is an ideal site for researching different aspects of place-making through mobile and locative media. This chapter is an analysis of interesting aspects of place-making and place attachment in London, aiming to explore the connections between locational information use on smartphones and reconfigurations of place. By grounding empirical research in recent frameworks and classical theories of place and location, this chapter also aims to further the understanding of location and use of locational information in mobile communication. Location has been conceptualized as an aspect of place (Lukerman 1964; Relph 1976), and an important attribute of many practices in everyday life. Sharing the location of any place does not turn places into locations, nor can locations simply be turned into places (de Souza e Silva and Frith 2012).

Sharing locational data can only change the sense of a place, how we perceive it and what a place means to us. When users of mobile and locative media check in at a place or attach location information to places, they actually share their memories and understandings of those places, along with the physical coordinates of those places. People retrieve or disclose locational information in everyday life for many reasons: To deal with the anxiety of getting lost, organize daily activities and be punctual, gain a feeling of security, discover new places, establish social relations, and maintain close ties, among other things. These kinds of activities form the basis of this study in answering two research questions: (1) How do people identify their physical locations within their daily activities? And (2) In what ways do they refer to, or evoke, place while using mobile ICTs? The findings of this study discuss and demonstrate how locational information use can renew senses of places and reconfigure spatial practices.

Keywords/subjects not otherwise listed: mobility, mobile media, mobile communication, location, place, space, sense of place
Publisher/Broadcaster/Company: Routledge
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Communication
Date: 2015
Date Deposited: 15 Apr 2016 09:40
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2016 09:40
Item ID: 9164
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/9164

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