Mapping sense(s) of place

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  • Astrid Ravn Skovse
  • Dirk Hovy
  • Anders Trærup Johannsen
A growing number of studies point to the importance of critically investigating people’s sense(s) of place and their patterns of everyday mobility in relation to their linguistic practice (e.g., Johnstone 2010b, Britain 2013). Since sense of place is fundamentally a phenomenological entity, the question of how to tap into this constitutes a methodological challenge to researchers (Latham 2003, Hall 2009). This paper presents an experimental method aimed at eliciting data on sense of place and everyday mobility in a feasible and low-tech manner through the use of mental maps and mobility maps.

During fieldwork among adolescents in a rural and an urban Danish setting, in a comparative study on connections between place, mobility and linguistic practice, it became clear that traditional sociolinguistic and ethnographic methods such as interviews and participant observation missed out important aspects of the informants’ place-making processes. Drawing on insights from humanistic geography and urban sociology, Skovse developed and applied a modified mapping method.

After the initial data collection, Skovse, Hovy, and Johannsen employed open-source, GIS-based software to digitalize and process the mapping data, pairing it with data from other sources such as questionnaires and participant observations to build a comprehensive and adaptable data set, applicable for a wide range of inquiries into the data. When combined with linguistic data, the method ultimately helps provide an empirical basis for answering questions about the relationship between places, speakers and linguistic practice.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date16 Jun 2016
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2016

ID: 172138037