Place identity

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Place identity refers to a cluster of ideas about place and identity in the fields of geography, urban planning, urban design, landscape architecture, environmental psychology, and urban sociology/ecological sociology. It concerns the meaning and significance of places for their inhabitants and users. Methodologies for understanding place identity primarily involve qualitative techniques, such as interviewing, participant observation, discourse analysis and mapping a range of physical elements. Some urban planners, urban designers and landscape architects use forms of deliberative planning, design charettes and participatory design with local communities as a way of working with place identity to transform existing places as well as create new ones. This kind of planning and design process is sometimes referred to as placemaking.

Place identity is sometimes called urban character, neighbourhood character or local character.

Place identity has become a significant issue in the last 25 years in urban planning and design. Related to the world-wide movement to protect places with heritage significance, concerns have arisen about the loss of individuality and distinctiveness between different places as an effect of cultural globalisation.


  • Proshansky, H.M. (1978) 'The city and self-identity', Journal of Environment and Behaviour, Vol. 10, pp. 57-83
  • Proshansky, H.M., Fabian, A.K. and Kaminoff, R. (1983) 'Place-identity: Physical world socialization of the self', Journal of Environmental Psychology, Vol. 3, pp. 57-83
  • Relph, E (1976) Place and placelessness London : Pion, 1976 (ISBN 0850860555)
  • Hague, C. and Jenkins, P. (Eds)(2005) Place identity, planning and participation, London ; New York : Routledge, 2005. ISBN: 0415262410 (hard cover) 0415262429 (soft cover) 0203646754 (ebook)