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J Hous Built Environ. 2016;31(4):677-693. doi: 10.1007/s10901-016-9495-4. Epub 2016 Jan 27.

Connecting physical and social dimensions of place attachment: What can we learn from attachment to urban recreational spaces?

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Urban Studies, School of Social and Political Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK.


This paper is concerned with the ways in which people form attachments to recreational spaces. More specifically it examines the relationship between recreational spaces associated with sporting activity in urban neighbourhoods and place attachment. The focus is on the ways in which changes to these spaces exposes the affective bonds between people and their surroundings. The paper applies a qualitative methodology, namely focus groups and photo elicitation, to the case study of Parkhead, a neighbourhood in the East End of Glasgow. Parkhead has historically been subjected to successive waves of redevelopment as a result of deindustrialization in the late twentieth century. More recently redevelopment associated with the 2014 Commonwealth Games involved further changes to neighbourhood recreational spaces, including refurbishing of existing sports facilities and building new ones. This paper reflects on the cumulative impacts of this redevelopment to conclude (a) that recreational sports spaces provoke multi-layered and complex attachments that are inextricably connected to both temporal and spatial narratives and (b) that research on neighbourhood recreational spaces can develop our understanding of the intricate relationship between the social and physical dimensions of place attachment.


Neighbourhoods; Physical; Place attachment; Social bonds; Sporting recreational spaces; Urban

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