The meaning of home: An exploratory study of environmental experience

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208 Citations (Scopus)


Despite a growing literature on the meaning of home, the complexity of home is, as yet, little understood. Typically (although not totally), much of the work in this area has not involved empirical research and overall the field lacks a coherent theoretical background. This paper presents a phenomenologically based study designed to reveal what home means to people through their everyday environmental experiences of home. In this exploratory study, the multiple sorting task (MST), was used as an aid to in-depth, systematic interviews which highlighted the personal, multidimensional nature of home. Findings indicate that: (1) different types of home exist; (2) different meanings of home co-exist. Relationships between the meanings of home were explored using multidimensional scaling techniques to reveal a superordinate structure which forms the first stages of a tentative model of home. This involves a tripartite division of home into three modes of experience: the personal home; the social home; the physical home. The results of the study are located within theories of place and the links between these theories and the findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-298
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Environmental Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1986

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