The context of environment/place and its social ecology

Year: 2009

Author: Payne, Phillip, Cutter-Mackenzie, Amy

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The paper addresses the salient contextual issues shaped by the concepts of environment and place. More specifically, contextual considerations will largely be place-based as they occur in and through diverse environments, including natural/physical, wild/more-than-human, built/human-made, social/community and personal/individual environments.

Place is constituted by time-space and the social contexts in which time and space are constructed, often in isolation from each other thus rendering any conception of place as problematic. Various social constructions of time -- as cyclical, linear or digital will significantly shape the experience of place and the perceptions and responsiveness to it. That is, time as a context in which various social constructions occur is, indeed, enigmatic. The socially enigmatic nature of time sometimes makes its experience dissonant, even contradictory, often intensified and individualized. Places, and place responsiveness are, therefore, highly vulnerable to the enigmas of socially constructed times. Such fast, accelerating and slow contexts of time remain a risk and challenge for how we might critically examine and experience place.

Through drawing upon everyday issues in a built school environment we consider the intersections of environment-place and time-space within a broader social ecological framework. In presenting this case in 'context' we gesture towards a transdisciplinary understanding of environment-place signified by time-space.