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The meaning of place : a study of geographical imagery with particular reference to Kingston upon Hull

Burgess, Jacqueline Anne


Jacqueline Anne Burgess


H. R. (Henry Robert) Wilkinson


One of the fundamental themes in geography has been the exploration of urban and regional character: - a uniqueness of environments often expressed in terms of an ambience or a sense of place. However, this area of study has been neglected in recent years: there have not been sufficiently sensitive techniques available and the predominant philosophical orientation of the subject has not been receptive to the more subjective aspects of environmental experience. The development of environmental perception - an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the relationship of man and environment - has alleviated these problems to some extent. By focussing on the environmental experiences of individuals and the language they use to describe their impressions of places, this research project has taken up and extended the question of environmental character.

The thesis is concerned with the meanings of places and work focusses upon the images of Kingston upon Hull in particular. The meaning of a place is defined as the associations of ideas and emotions it evokes in the individual both as a result of direct environmental stimulation and other secondary sources of information. The image represents the synthesis of these connotations: as they are communicated to other people an image or verbal picture will emerge which conveys not only information about it but also the emotive value placed upon it by the individual. The main proposition, therefore, is that people have cognitive representations of places which they are able to communicate. The underlying assumption is that the language people use is a true indication of these internal representations. The first two chapters of the thesis provide a review of the evidence to support the propositions: chapter one discusses various theoretical frameworks used in the study of environmental perception whilst chapter two seeks to establish that there has been a neglect of the phenomenological and linguistic aspects of urban imagery. The main body of the thesis is concerned with the development and substantiation of a model of urban imagery. On the basis of survey and experimental work reported in chapters three and four, a categorisation of images dependent upon the type of information available to the individual is proposed. As reported in succeeding chapters, partial support for this model is achieved by reference to two larger social surveys. The validity of this work is then assessed in relation to comparable projects completed recently. The final chapter provides a summary of the findings and considers their implications for further work in urban and regional perception.

It must be stressed that this project has been subject to the usual constraints of time and finance. The lack of more extensive facilities is reflected in the size and organisations of the surveys undertaken. The possible biases inherent in these surveys have been recognised and the interpretation of results has erred on the side of caution rather than running the risk of making unjustified assertions. A more serious criticism of the study must also be conceded . An extensive monitoring of the media and other information sources was not made during the course of the study. This was not feasible and it was felt to be of more value to explore the verbal content of environmental images, illustrating these with media examples where appropriate. The importance of more extensive work into the relationship between image and information sources is recognised, however.


Burgess, J. A. (1975). The meaning of place : a study of geographical imagery with particular reference to Kingston upon Hull. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Publication Date Oct 1, 1975
Deposit Date Feb 5, 2013
Publicly Available Date Feb 22, 2023
Keywords Geography
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Geography, The University of Hull


Thesis (22.6 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 1975 Burgess, Jacqueline Anne. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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