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Landscape and Urban Planning 104 (2012) 124–134
Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect
Landscape and Urban Planning
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/landurbplan
Residents’ sense of place and landscape perceptions at the rural–urban interface
Katriina Soini a,∗ , Hanne Vaarala b , Eija Pouta a
a
b
MTT, Agrifood Research Finland, Economic Research, Luutnantintie 13, FIN-00410 Helsinki, Finland
Forest Centre, Hallituskatu 22, 96100 Rovaniemi, Finland
a r t i c l e
i n f o
Article history:
Received 19 December 2010
Received in revised form
16 September 2011
Accepted 4 October 2011
Available online 26 October 2011
Keywords:
Landscape perceptions
Place
Sense of place
Rural landscape
Landscape change
a b s t r a c t
Rural residents have different expectations concerning what the rural landscape should be like and what
it should be used for. This is especially the case at the rural–urban interface, where the characteristics of rural and urban landscapes have become blurred. In this article, the concept of sense of place is
used to explore the relationship between humans and landscape at the rural–urban fringe. Based on a
quantitative survey data set, this article examines how the landscape perceptions of local residents can be
understood from the basis of their sense of place in Nurmijärvi, a municipality located close to the Helsinki
Metropolitan Area in southern Finland. A factor analysis revealed four clusters: Socially connected, Weak
bonds, Roots and resources and Committed to place. The clusters differed by their socio-economic profiles as well as their sense of place. The Roots and resources cluster differed most of the other clusters, but
in general the differences between the clusters in general landscape perceptions were relatively small.
Although a strong sense of place is often assumed to lead to care of place, the willingness to contribute
to the landscape did not differ significantly between the clusters. In addition the study revealed the existence of two different approaches to landscape in the rural–urban interface: landscape as a scenery and
landscape as a dwelling place.
© 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
The rural landscape – whether understood as an area, as scenery
or as a social and cultural construction or representation – is in
the midst of change in many areas throughout the world. This is a
result of changes in livelihood systems, urban settlement, energy
production and delivery, as well as land abandonment. The change
is varied in speed and according to the area, but it is permanent and
inevitable (Palang, Sooväl, Antrop, & Setten, 2004, p. 1). Change in
the rural landscape challenges the landscape perceptions of rural
dwellers, part-time residents, visitors and potential newcomers,
who have different expectations concerning what the rural landscape should be like and what it should be used for. This is especially
the case at the rural–urban interface, where the landscape changes
may take place rapidly (Meeus & Gulinck, 2008) and the characteristics of rural and urban landscapes are blurred (Buciega, Pitarch, &
Esparcia, 2009; Kaur, Palang, & Sooväli, 2004; Maseuda & Garvin,
2008; Overbeek, 2009; Walker & Ryan, 2008).
The aim of this article is to use the concept of sense of place to
explore the landscape perceptions of residents at the rural–urban
interface, and in this way examine the relationship between these
concepts. It is suggested in this article that the concept of sense
∗ Corresponding author. Tel.: +358 40 7251 891; fax: +358 20 772 040.
E-mail addresses: [email protected]fi (K. Soini), [email protected]fi
(H. Vaarala), [email protected]fi (E. Pouta).
0169-2046/$ – see front matter © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2011.10.002
of place characterizes the complex connections people have with
the environments they encounter, whereas landscape perceptions
refer to the visual aspects and use value of the environment. Sense
of place has particularly been favoured as a concept when examining issues such as place preference, access to and control over
the landscape and natural resources, or meanings and culture in
terms of resource use or the participation of various groups in
local decision making (Cheng, Kruger, & Daniels, 2003; Kruger &
Jakes, 2003; Patterson & Williams, 2005). The concept provides
opportunities to examine the social and cultural processes affecting environmental and landscape valuation, including a broader
range of voices and values, especially those of residents, in landscape planning and policy (Cheng et al., 2003; Relph, 1985; Saar &
Palang, 2009; Soini, 2007). As sense of place is expected to translate into harmony between people and nature, as well as care
for the place, thereby contributing to the aesthetic quality of the
landscape (Birkeland, 2008; Cross, Keske, Lacy, Hoag, & Bastian,
2011; Davenport & Anderson, 2008; Kaltenborn, 1998; Relph, 1985;
Soini, 2007; Stefanovic, 1998; Tuan, 1977; Walker & Ryan, 2008),
it provides an informative concept in an environment with heterogeneous expectations for landscape management (Eisenhauer,
Krannich, & Blahna, 2000; Soini, 2007). Still relatively few studies have been carried out on the relationship between sense of
place and landscape perceptions in rural areas, or on the relationship between sense of place and willingness to contribute to
rural landscape management (Kaltenborn, 1998; Walker & Ryan,
2008).
K. Soini et al. / Landscape and Urban Planning 104 (2012) 124–134
The sense of place or place attachment approach has frequently
been applied in research on second homes and tourism, aiming
to determine the reasons why people visit a particular place (see
Hwang, Lee, & Chen, 2005; Stedman, 2006; Walker & Ryan, 2008).
The concept has also been implemented mainly in urban neighbourhoods (Bonaiuto, Aiello, Perugini, Bonnes, & Ercolani, 1999)
and natural resource politics (Cheng et al., 2003). However, the
methodologies and variables developed for these purposes are not
necessarily applicable when exploring sense of place among rural
residents in their everyday environment, a ‘conventional’ rural area
in the urban fringe.
In the present study, the development of the means to understand the connection between sense of place and the landscape
perceptions of rural residents of a conventional rural Finnish village
represents a new application, adding to knowledge of the applicability of the concept and its measures. Based on a quantitative
survey data set, this article examines how the landscape perceptions of local residents can be understood from the basis of their
sense of place in Nurmijärvi, a municipality located close to the
Helsinki Metropolitan Area in southern Finland that is prone to
urban sprawl and landscape change. The first objective of the article
is to examine the sense of place of local residents with regard to the
region in which they are living by exploring place attachment, place
satisfaction and place identity, which have been suggested as components of sense of place (Jorgensen & Stedman, 2006). The second
objective is to examine whether clusters exist among the survey
respondents having a similar sense of place, and to analyse the
socio-demographic, personal history and activity profiles of these
clusters in order to learn more about place attachment and the
commitment of the residents to the place. The third objective is to
analyse the clusters of respondents with respect to the perceptions
of existing landscape elements and landscape changes. Finally, the
respondents’ willingness to contribute to landscape development
is analysed. The article concludes with the policy implications of
the study by discussing the possible reasons for conflicts in land
use and landscape planning.
2. Theoretical frame
2.1. Sense of place and its components
A group of concepts exists that aim to describe the quality and
strength of the embeddedness of people in a ‘place’, of which sense
of place is probably the most often referred to. Although having
multiple definitions, sense of place usually refers to the experience
of a place, which is gained through the use of, attentiveness to and
emotions towards the place (Relph, 1976; Stokowski, 2002). It is
not purely individually or collectively constructed (Butz & Eyles,
1997). Relationships with places are also dynamic in the sense that
they develop along with the human identity (Manzo, 2003), having a time horizon from the past (memories) to the future (dreams,
wishes, worries) (Butz & Eyles, 1997; Kruger & Shannon, 2000).
Factors such as physical size and other characteristics independent of human perception (Dale, Ling, & Newman, 2008; Shamai,
1991; Stedman, 2003; Vogt & Marans, 2004), geographical distance
from the home (Brown, Reed, & Harris, 2002; Norton & Hannon,
1997), length of residency (Relph, 1976; Tuan, 1977), an individual’s gender (Hidalgo & Hernandez, 2001), place-related activities
(Eisenhauer et al., 2000), environmental attitudes (Vorkinn & Riese,
2001) and life course (Cuba & Hummon, 1993), as well as the perceived threat to identity together with the perceived loss of control
over land (Bonaiuto, Carrus, Martorella, & Bonnes, 2002) and associations between environmental value orientations (Kaltenborn &
Bjerke, 2002) have all been suggested to contribute to sense of
place.
125
The character and strength of sense of place have been examined through various components (Jorgensen & Stedman, 2006).
Place attachment, which has even been used as a synonym for sense
of place, describes the positive emotional bond that people have
with a place. Altman and Low (1992) suggested that place attachment may arise, for example, from history and family, the loss
or destruction of land or a community, ownership or inheritance,
spiritual relationships, or story-telling and naming of places. Place
attachment is not always positive, as it might also include negative feelings (Hernández, Hidalgo, Salazar-Laplace, & Hess, 2007;
Manzo, 2003).
The second component of sense of place, place satisfaction, or
what Stedman (2002) calls “judgement of the perceived quality of
a certain setting,” is viewed as the “utilitarian value of a place to
meet certain basic needs” ranging from the sociability of services
to physical characteristics (Stedman, 2002).
Place dependence concerns how well a setting serves goal
achievement given an existing range of alternatives (Stokols &
Shumaker, 1981), i.e. how the setting is compared to another setting for what a person likes to do. Thus, place dependence refers
to connections based specifically on activities that take place in a
setting, reflecting the importance of a place in providing conditions
that support an intended use (see Brown & Raymond, 2007, p. 2).
Place identity, in turn, involves those dimensions of self that
define an individual’s or community’s identity in relation to the
physical environment by means of a complex pattern of conscious
and unconscious ideas, beliefs, preferences, feelings, values, goals
and behavioural tendencies and skills relevant to this environment,
and how the physical setting provides meaning and purpose to life
(Brown & Raymond, 2007; Proshansky, Fabian, & Kaminoff, 1983).
2.2. Sense of place and landscape perceptions
There has been considerable debate on the relationships
between landscape, place and sense of place. The Marxist theories
of landscape emphasize the representational approaches to landscape, reading the landscape as a “text” within systems of cultural,
political and economic power, where the individual or collective
experience of landscape is seen as a result of this power (Rose,
2002; Wylie, 2007). Phenomenologically oriented approaches, in
turn, consider landscape as an object of analysis (an area, district,
scene) emphasizing the physical character of the landscape as a
mixture of natural and cultural elements, and have reserved ‘place’
as a term for the context of experience (Relph, 1985; Saar & Palang,
2009; Soini, 2007; Wylie, 2007). Here, ‘landscape’ is considered as
a dwelling place, which is not something external to human being
and thought, but simultaneously both the object and the subject
of dwelling (Ingold, 1993, 2000). From this perspective, ‘landscape’
and ‘place’ cannot be seen as opposite, but rather as inseparable, as
Karjalainen (1986, p. 141) has put it: every place is a part of some
landscape and, conversely, every landscape is part of some place
(see also Cresswell, 2003; Saar & Palang, 2009).
Besides these conceptual examinations, a relatively small number of empirical studies have examined how the perceptions
of landscape and sense of place encounter each other in the
human–environment relationship within a certain site or region:
how does sense of place affect the way people perceive the landscape, and vice versa, what is the role of physical or social attributes
in the experience of a place, and how do they turn into landscape
perceptions and management activities?
Stedman (2003) demonstrated that landscape attributes do
matter to sense of place, and that landscape development changes
the symbolic base of attachment without affecting the overall attachment. Proshansky et al. (1983) found the physical
attributes of places to be important for an individual’s self-concept.
Kaltenborn’s (1998) study on sense of place among residents of the
126
K. Soini et al. / Landscape and Urban Planning 104 (2012) 124–134
Norwegian high Arctic revealed that those residents having a strong
sense of place had somewhat more positive images of the environment in that they perceived their surroundings as less degraded
from a natural state by human actions. He assumed that residents
with a strong sense of place could be interpreting the surroundings positively to rationalize and justify their existence in the area,
or they were likely to be more involved in it and know it better.
Dale et al. (2008) suggested that physical space both constrains
and directs the possible senses of place that can emerge. Space can
be beneficial for sense of place, as it creates resilience and a rallying
point around the sense of place, but it can also limit diversity and
transformability, making it difficult for some long-standing communities to move to new patterns or integrate new members into
the community. A central question seems to be how much sense of
place is a result of physical characteristics and how much it is associated with social activities and ties (Raymond, Brown, & Weber,
2010; Soini, 2001).
2.3. Sense of place generating willingness to contribute to
landscape management
Besides the linkages between sense of place and landscape
characteristics, there is also some empirical evidence that sense
of place influences individual and social action through different mechanisms (see Cheng et al., 2003). For example, Vaske
and Kobkrin (2001) found positive relationships between place
attachment and specific environmental behaviours. Cantrill (1998)
indicated that a strong sense of place played a key role in determining whether individuals became involved in local advocacy
efforts. Kruger and Shannon (2000) asserted that citizens with a
high level of place-related knowledge seem to “grasp the opportunity to create knowledge, benefits, and new opportunities for
social action.” Kaltenborn and Bjerke (2002) suggested that sense
of place could be a good predictor of how people will react to
environmental changes: those with a strong sense of place seem
more rooted, less indifferent and more committed to solving
problems. Stedman (2002) found that willingness to engage in
place-protective behaviour is maximized when attachment is high,
revealing the importance of the place. It has also been found that
there is also a strong positive correlation between local residents’
attachment to the rural landscape and their level of support for conservation planning to sustain rural places and economies (Locokz,
Ryan, & Sadler, 2011; Walker & Ryan, 2008). However, differences
in the sense of place or landscape perceptions do not necessarily
always lead to differences in the aims of landscape management,
as Blahna (1990), for example, has shown.
2.4. Similarities and differences between socio-demographic and
cultural groups
From the sustainable landscape planning and management
point of view, it is useful to acknowledge the differences between
people with respect to their sense of place and landscape perceptions (Hay, 1998; Relph, 1976; Shamai, 1991; Soini, 2007). Usually,
a distinction is made between insiders (people deeply involved in
a place) and outsiders (separate or alienated from a place), resulting from the physical closeness of the place, although people may
have a sense of place even outside their neighbourhood (Manzo,
2003). In addition, many studies have revealed differences between
groups having a special economic or cultural interest in the landscape, such as landowners or farmers and others (Raymond et al.,
2010; Soini, 2007). Gender differences have also been found in place
attachment (Bonaiuto et al., 1999; Cuba & Hummon, 1993; Hidalgo
& Hernandez, 2001; Soini, 2007).
On the other hand, various socio-economic and socio-cultural
groups, such as country-dwellers, farmers, experts and visitors,
may also have a very similar sense of place or landscape perceptions for a certain setting (Palang et al., 2011; Rogge, Nevens, &
Gulinck, 2007; Stedman, 2006), although the meanings and significance behind the sense of place and landscape preferences may be
different. Stedman (2006), for example, has shown that the sense of
place of part-time residents is primarily related to environmental
quality, whereas permanent residents emphasize social relations
in their sense of place. In this article we focus on variation in sense
of place and landscape perceptions across the various social groups
in the case study area, and define clusters of sense of place that go
beyond the socio-economic parameters or length of residency.
3. Data and methods
3.1. Case study area
The case study area in southern Finland included the villages
of Lepsämä, Perttula and Nummenpää located in the municipality
of Nurmijärvi, all established since the 15th century. The area is
currently included in the urban fringe of the Helsinki Metropolitan
Area, as the distance from Helsinki city centre to the study area is
37 km. The villages have been desirable residential areas for those
seeking a rural lifestyle, with expectations of pastoral scenery and
tranquillity, and have therefore attracted new inhabitants to settle in the sparsely situated single family houses. The population
consists of local farmers and relatively newly arrived rural settlers.
Approximately half of the working residents are employed outside
the studied area.
The geomorphology of the study area consists of low-lying clay
fields approximately 40 m above sea level. Forests are located on
less fertile gravel slopes and rocky hilltops, the highest points being
110 m above sea level (Fig. 1). The fields and forests together form
a small-scale overlapping mosaic, which is typical of the Finnish
agricultural landscape. Some small mires are located in the area,
as well as a lake in the southeastern section of the case study area.
Larger unified open fields are found to the south of Nummenpää
village (area A), west of Perttula village (area B) and north of Lepsämä village (area C). Röykkä village extends to the northern part
of the case area.
3.2. Survey method and data
The study data were collected via a mail survey. The survey
was first tested in a pilot study and then developed further. The
final survey was sent in March 2008 to all households in the study
area and its surrounding postal areas. The mailing lists were gathered through code areas used by the Finnish postal services, which
did not fit perfectly inside the boundaries of the area. Altogether,
these comprised 2172 households, including both landowners and
residents without land ownership in the area. To facilitate a high
response rate, a reminder postcard was sent after 1 week and finally
the survey was mailed again to the same households (Dillman,
1978). The mail survey yielded a total of 630 responses from the
sample, amounting to 29% of the total number of mailed questionnaires.
Socio-demographic information on the survey respondents is
presented in Table 1. The gender distribution was quite equal, with
a slight bias towards women. Most respondents were over 35 years
old. Nearly half had at least a Bachelor’s degree and about half
worked in white-collar jobs. One third of the respondents were
blue-collar workers and about one quarter entrepreneurs. Approximately half of the respondents were childless, while over one third
had at least two children. A little over one third of the respondent
households earned at least 60,000 euros per year.
K. Soini et al. / Landscape and Urban Planning 104 (2012) 124–134
127
Fig. 1. Case study area.
Approximately half of the respondents (309, 50.7%) lived permanently in the study area, and 300 (49.3%) lived in its close vicinity.
Only 19 respondents (3.5%) were either part-time residents or vacationers in the area. About one in five owned land in the region (109
respondents or 19.2%).
3.3. Variables and statistical methods
As previously tested measures of sense of place in Finnish conditions only existed for the national park context (Neuvonen, Pouta,
& Sievänen, 2010), some of the statements used in the questionnaire were developed on the basis of the international literature
(Kyle, Mowen, & Tarrant, 2004; Moore & Scott, 2003; Stedman,
2003; Williams & Vaske, 2003), while others were developed with
the case study site in mind. Altogether, 31 statements were formulated for the questionnaire. The preliminary aim was to include
statements measuring the respondents’ place attachment, place
satisfaction and sense of place, but as the measures had not previously been tested, the analysis was conducted in an exploratory
manner to determine what components of sense of place existed
in the sample. In the measures, the concept of landscape was used
alongside the concept of place due to linguistic reasons: the concept of ‘landscape’ was sometimes considered more appropriate
than that of ‘place’.
The measures of sense of place were included in factor analysis to explore the components of sense of place. The results of
the factor analysis applying the principal component method (Hair,
Black, Babin, Anderson, & Tatham, 2006) are reported in Appendix
A. Factor analysis transforms a larger set of correlated variables
into a smaller set of uncorrelated variables, i.e. orthogonal principal component scores, without losing much information. The
components with Eigenvalues less than 1 were not considered
for further analysis. The standardized principal component scores
were used to cluster the respondents with K-means cluster analysis (e.g. Karppinen, 1998; Kline, Alig, & Johnson, 2000; Majumdar,
Teeter, & Butler, 2008), which assigns cases to clusters based on
their cluster centres.
We continued the analysis by examining the socio-demographic
profile of respondent clusters. To describe the classes and to
test the difference between them in background variables, crosstabulations and chi-squared tests were used.
In the questionnaire the respondents’ perceptions of landscape elements and changes in the landscape were measured with
a seven-point Likert scale ranging from very negative (−3) to
very positive (3). Twenty elements of the current situation were
included, comprising natural as well as man-made elements. In the
set of items measuring landscape changes, sixteen items, consisting
of both natural and built environments, were used.
To identify possible differences in landscape perceptions
between respondent clusters, the means of landscape perceptions
were compared between respondent clusters using analysis of
variance. The means were compared between respondent clusters
128
K. Soini et al. / Landscape and Urban Planning 104 (2012) 124–134
Table 1
Socio-demographic profile of the respondents (n = 630).
Frequency
%
Gender
Female
Male
322
268
54.6
45.4
Age
Under 19
20–34
35–49
50–64
More than 65
5
73
242
184
79
0.9
12.5
41.5
31.6
13.6
Education
Comprehensive school education
Vocational education
High school graduate
College/polytechnic
University graduate
Other education
106
122
44
196
95
28
17.9
20.6
7.4
33.2
16.1
4.7
Number of children
No children
1 child
2–3 children
4 or more
203
72
162
27
43.8
15.5
34.9
5.8
Occupation
Agricultural/forestry entrepreneurs
Other entrepreneurs
Professionals/specialists
White-collar workers
Blue-collar workers
Students/pupils
Housewives/others
31
70
147
135
175
6
12
5.4
12.2
25.5
23.4
30.4
1.0
2.1
Yearly gross income of the household
Under 10,000 D
D 10,000–19,999
D 20,000–29,999
D 30,000–39,999
D 40,000–49,999
D 50,000–59,999
D 60,000–69,999
D 70,000–79,999
D 80,000–89,999
D 90,000 or more
12
37
65
70
82
74
60
59
19
61
2.2
6.9
12.1
13.0
15.2
13.7
11.1
10.9
3.5
11.3
compared between respondent clusters pairwise with Dunnett’s
T3 post hoc test, which does not assume equality of variances.
Three statements indicated willingness to contribute time,
effort or money to the landscape: “I would like to contribute to
the landscape’s future and its management”, “The residents of the
area should bear the majority of the costs of the landscape’s management” and “Rural landscapes could be maintained more with
voluntary work.” These measures were also compared between the
respondent clusters by analysis of variance.
4. Results
4.1. Sense of place concept and respondent clusters
pairwise with Dunnett’s T3 post hoc test, which does not assume
equality of variances.
In the questionnaire the evaluative perceptions of the landscape were measured with 20 five-point semantic differential
scales using evaluative adjective pares coded from −2 to +2.
The scales were beautiful–ugly, vital–regressive, unkempt–tidy,
important–unimportant, stimulating–boring, imperfect–idyllic,
uniting
residents–dividing
residents,
ordinary–distinctive,
constant–changing, urban–rural, dull–varying, pristine–human
altered, stressful–relaxing, traditional–modern, private–public,
undefined–defined, easy to navigate–difficult to navigate,
noisy–quiet, open–closed and unsafe–safe. The analysis of
the association between evaluative perceptions and respondent
clusters was conducted using analysis of variance. The means were
The principal component analysis revealed seven components
of sense of place. These were named as Attachment to place, Rootedness, Social relations, Appreciation of the landscape, Perceived
uniqueness of the landscape, Adaptability to place and Landscape
satisfaction (Appendix A). Of these we selected the components
that were related to sense of place and the use of place for cluster analysis. The components that included obvious evaluation of
the landscape were omitted to avoid cross-correlations between
clustering and landscape perceptions. The cluster analysis of these
four components, Attachment to place, Rootedness, Social relations, Adaptability to place, produced four clusters of respondents
(Table 2). The clusters differed significantly with respect all these
components.
The respondents in the first cluster had social connections
within the region, even though they did not have roots in the area.
Their attachment to the place or the use of landscape was on a low
level. They were named Socially connected. The second cluster was
the most indifferent to the place. Their attachment was on a low
level, they did not have roots or social relations in the area and the
adaptability to the place was on a low level, implying that they had
not been able to adapt their everyday dwelling to the landscape.
Due to this weak relationship, this cluster was named Weak bonds.
The third cluster of respondents had strong roots in the region,
and some attachment to the place in emotional terms. They had
also adapted their recreational use to the place. The cluster was
named Roots and resources.
The final cluster was strongly attached to the place in emotional
terms, but weakly in social terms. Respondents in this cluster were
weakly adapted to the area in their recreational use. Following their
high place attachment, they were named as Committed to the place.
4.2. Profiles of the respondent clusters
To strengthen the interpretation, the typical socio-demographic
profile of each cluster was analysed. Table 3 provides information on the distribution of socio-demographic variables within the
four clusters. In chi-squared tests, all these socio-demographic variables were found to significantly vary among the clusters. Through
row-wise comparison of socio-demographic variables between
clusters, it is easy to observe which socio-demographic groups
Table 2
Components in K-means clustering.
Components
Attachment to place
Rootedness
Social relations
Adaptability to place
Cluster sizes, N/%
Principal component scores in cluster centres
Respondent clusters
Socially connected
Weak bonds
Roots and resources
Committed to the place
−0.89
−0.45
0.50
−0.45
114/21.8%
0.10
−0.39
−0.27
−0.39
137/26.2%
0.21
1.50
0.15
1.50
134/25.7%
0.65
−0.70
−0.07
−0.70
137/26.3%
F-test
p-Value
95.52
584.15
17.21
584.15
0.000
0.000
0.000
0.000
K. Soini et al. / Landscape and Urban Planning 104 (2012) 124–134
129
Table 3
Background variable associations between cluster groups.
Socially
connected (%)
Weak
bonds (%)
Roots and
resources (%)
Committed to
the place (%)
All
21.8
26.2
25.7
26.2
Gender
Female
Male
21.3
23.0
29.4
23.0
22.1
28.7
27.2
25.2
Age
34 or younger
35–49
50 or older
21.1
23.4
21.2
31.0
26.8
25.3
36.6
19.6
26.3
11.3
30.1
27.2
Education
Comprehensive education
Secondary level (high school or vocational education)
Tertiary level (university or polytechnic)
24.3
20.1
21.7
18.0
22.3
32.4
29.7
33.8
19.0
27.9
23.7
26.9
Occupation
Agricultural/forestry entrepreneurs
White-collar-workers/entrepreneurs
Workers/others
0.0
23.5
22.6
4.8
28.8
25.3
90.5
18.0
29.5
4.8
29.7
22.6
Household income
D 29,999 or less
D 30,000–49,999
D 50,000–69,999
D 70,000 or more
26.4
14.5
27.0
22.0
30.8
29.8
22.1
26.0
26.4
26.7
27.0
17.9
16.5
29.0
23.8
34.1
Childhood neighbourhood
Active farm
Rural
Urban
13.1
21.3
28.9
19.7
26.2
30.0
45.9
31.7
6.3
21.3
20.8
34.7
Land ownership
Doesn’t own any land
Owns land (farming or forest land)
22.3
20.6
30.3
12.7
19.8
47.1
27.6
19.6
Years of residence in Western Nurmijärvi
1–4 years
5–10 years
Over 10 years
26.3
24.5
19.5
35.5
36.4
20.8
3.9
4.5
37.7
34.2
34.5
22.0
Participation in recreation
Low frequency
Middle frequency
High frequency
28.3
22.4
16.3
37.7
24.7
18.4
22.0
23.5
29.5
11.9
29.4
35.8
were overrepresented in each cluster. Table 4 summarizes these
results and provides a description of a typical member of each
cluster.
The first cluster, named Socially connected, was dominated by
middle-aged respondents who typically had an above-average
household income. Although members of this non-farming cluster
typically had an urban background, landowners and non-owners
were quite equally represented. They were new comers, and used
the area for recreation less than average.
In the second cluster with Weak bonds, younger and female
respondents were over-represented. Presumably related to their
younger age, these respondents with a higher education and
Chi-squared
p-Value
4.45
0.217
14.70
0.023
17.07
0.009
58.76
0.000
17.23
0.045
70.15
0.000
35.29
0.000
70.38
0.000
39.90
0.000
white-collar professions typically had a lower than average
household income. Land ownership was rare among them,
and they also used the region for recreation with a low
frequency.
In third cluster, named Roots and resources, the strong majority of respondents were self-employed, i.e. they worked as
farmers or forest entrepreneurs. They typically had a relatively low household income, but they owned land. Altogether,
almost half of all landowners of the data belonged to this cluster. They had also spent their childhood on an active farm
in the region, and used the region for recreation with a high
frequency.
Table 4
Socio-demographic profile of the clusters of respondents.
Dominant socio-demographic characteristics
Age
Education
Occupation
Household income
Childhood neighbourhood
Landownership
Years of residence in Western Nurmijärvi
Recreation participation
Socially connected
Weak bonds
Roots and resources
Committed to the place
Middle aged
All levels
White and blue-collar
Higher
Urban
Both
Short-term residents
Low frequency
Younger
Higher
White-collar
Lower
Urban
Non-landowners
Short- and mid-term residents
Low frequency
Younger
Secondary
Farmers and Blue-collar
Lower and average
Active farm and rural
Landowners
Long-term residents
High frequency
Middle aged and older
All levels
White-collar
Higher and average
Urban
Non-landowners
Short- and mid-term residents
High frequency
130
K. Soini et al. / Landscape and Urban Planning 104 (2012) 124–134
Table 5
Perceptions of landscape elements, showing significant (p ≤ 0.1) differences in landscape perceptions among clusters.
Variable
Average score on a 7-point Likert scale from very positive (+3) to very negative (−3)
Socially connected
Weak bonds
Roots and resources
Committed to the place
All
F-value
p-Value
−0.15A
1.26AB
1.35AB
0.69AB
2.36AB
2.04AB
2.08B
2.55B
0.14A
1.62A
1.61A
0.93A
2.45AB
2.17A
2.39AB
2.59B
−0.81B
1.12B
1.16B
0.36B
2.18B
1.78
2.18B
2.50B
0.03A
1.35AB
1.39AB
0.94A
2.53A
2.22A
2.55A
2.82A
−0.19
1.34
1.38
0.73
2.38
2.05
2.31
2.62
8.47
2.98
2.46
4.80
2.99
4.33
4.64
4.51
0.000
0.031
0.062
0.003
0.031
0.005
0.003
0.004
Constructed landscape elements
Yards and gardens
Roads
New houses
New production buildings
2.07A
0.95A
1.12AB
0.83
2.19AB
0.92A
0.96A
0.84
2.30AB
1.38B
1.26AB
0.98
2.37B
1.55B
1.46B
1.20
2.24
1.21
1.20
0.97
2.25
8.29
3.56
2.11
0.082
0.000
0.014
0.099
Mean
1.43
1.57
1.37
1.70
Natural landscape elements
Set-aside fields
Field buffer zones
Wetlands
Open ditches
Grazing cattle
Forest/field edges
River
Topography
The letters A and B denote clusters with significant differences in Dunnett’s T3 post hoc test, at the 0.1 significance level.
The fourth cluster, Committed to place, was dominated by
middle-aged and older residents. They worked in white-collar
professions and had an average or higher than average level of
household income. They had typically spent their childhood in
urban surroundings and did not own land, but still used the region
for recreational purposes with a high frequency.
4.3. Landscape perceptions in the clusters
The sense of place clusters differed significantly in their
landscape perceptions concerning twelve out of twenty existing
landscape elements. The perceptions that differed between the
clusters were in most cases related to natural landscape elements
(Table 5). From the constructed elements, four elements differed
between the clusters.
Almost all landscape elements were perceived as positive in all
clusters, and differences only existed at the level of positive perceptions. Their perceptions of set-aside fields, field buffer zones
and open ditches varied the most. Set-aside fields were even perceived negatively in the clusters of Socially connected and Roots and
resources. Grazing cattle, River Lepsämä and the topography were
perceived as very positive.
In analysis of variance and pairwise comparisons of the perception means, the Socially connected, Weak bonds and the Committed to
the place clusters were quite similar in their landscape perceptions.
The Roots and resources differed most from the other clusters in their
views, in particular from the clusters of Weak bonds and Committed to the place. The Roots and resources clusters viewed the natural
landscape elements less positively overall than the other clusters,
while the Committed to the place cluster viewed these landscape
elements most positively. In the constructed landscape elements,
the clusters of Socially connected and Weak bonds typically had the
lowest perceptions of the landscape.
In general, changes in the landscape were perceived as much
more negative than the existing landscape elements. From among
the proposed changes to landscape elements, perceptions differed significantly between clusters for 7 out of the original
16 items (Table 6). Overgrowth of lakes and rivers was ranked
very negatively by all clusters. Views concerning the construction of recreational routes on fields divided the clusters the
most, followed by forest logging and a decrease in biodiversity.
Again, the first, second and fourth clusters were quite equal in
their perceptions of landscape changes. The cluster of Roots and
resources viewed the changes in the landscape less negatively,
and considered the production efficiency of agriculture as the
most positive change. The construction of recreational routes on
fields was viewed negatively by the Roots and resources cluster,
while all the other clusters considered it as a positive change.
Weak bonds viewed the landscape changes most negatively, particularly the overgrowth of lakes and rivers and a decrease in
biodiversity, whereas the construction of recreational paths on
fields was the most welcomed change in the landscape in this cluster.
The evaluative perceptions measured with adjective pairs provided further insights into the differences in landscape perceptions
between the clusters (Table 7). The Socially connected cluster
viewed the surroundings most negatively in all adjective pairs.
The cluster of Weak bonds generally also had quite a negative
perception of the surroundings. Those in the cluster Committed
to the place had the most positive feelings towards the region;
Table 6
Perceptions of landscape changes, showing significant (p ≤ 0.1) differences in landscape perceptions among clusters.
Variable
Average score on a 7-point Likert scale from very positive (+3) to very negative (−3)
Socially connected
Weak bonds
Roots and resources
Committed to the place
All
F-value
p-Value
Production efficiency of agriculture
Decrease in biodiversity
New invasive plant species
Forest loggings
Overgrowth of lakes and rivers
Exploitation of extractable soil resources
Construction of recreational routes on fields
0.23AB
−1.81B
−1.33
−1.02AB
−2.11AB
−1.62AB
0.82A
0.20A
−2.37A
−1.77
−1.42A
−2.39A
−1.86A
0.98A
0.69B
−1.83B
−1.43
−0.83B
−1.92B
−1.33B
−0.02B
0.66B
−2.05A
−1.78
−0.96B
−2.28A
−1.69AB
0.69A
0.45
−2.03
−1.59
−1.06
−2.18
−1.63
0.61
3.79
7.27
3.19
3.72
5.40
3.81
7.97
0.010
0.000
0.024
0.012
0.001
0.010
0.000
Mean
−0.98
−1.23
−0.95
−1.06
The letters A, B and C denote clusters with significant differences in Dunnett’s T3 post hoc test, at the 0.1 significance level.
K. Soini et al. / Landscape and Urban Planning 104 (2012) 124–134
131
Table 7
Landscape perceptions in adjective pairs, comparison of means, and comparison of clusters with others using the t-test (level of significance: p < 0.1).
Variable
Ugly–beautiful
Regressive–vital
Unmanaged–managed
Insignificant–important
Boring–stimulating
Imperfect–idyllic
Ordinary–distinctive
Stabile–changing
Human altered–pristine
Stressful–relaxing
Obscure–clear
Difficult to–easy to orientate
Wide–closed
Unsafe–safe
Mean
Average score on a scale (−2 . . . +2)
Socially connected
Weak bonds
Roots and resources
Committed to the place
All
F-value
p-Value
1.11A
0.65A
0.47A
1.02A
0.21A
0.86A
0.37A
0.83A
−0.41A
1.08A
0.26A
0.48A
0.92A
1.32A
1.34B
0.73A
0.52AB
1.20A
0.38AB
1.00A
0.58AB
0.90A
−0.29AB
1.32B
0.38AB
0.52A
1.04AB
1.42AB
1.37B
0.95B
0.71AB
1.23A
0.53B
0.97A
0.42A
1.12AB
−0.02B
1.31AB
0.47AB
0.72AB
1.07AB
1.32AB
1.57C
1.12B
0.79B
1.50B
0.82C
1.28B
0.81B
1.36B
−0.04B
1.42B
0.54B
0.91B
1.28B
1.56B
1.36
0.87
0.63
1.25
0.50
1.04
0.55
1.06
−0.18
1.29
0.42
0.66
1.09
1.41
9.35
6.41
3.23
6.26
9.78
5.4
4.57
8.61
4.26
4.48
2.32
5.71
3.76
2.59
0.000
0.000
0.022
0.000
0.000
0.001
0.004
0.000
0.006
0.004
0.075
0.001
0.011
0.052
0.66
0.79
0.87
1.07
0.85
The letters A, B and C denote clusters with significant differences in Dunnett’s T3 post hoc test, at the 0.1 significance level.
they viewed it as particularly beautiful, important, relaxing and
safe.
4.4. Willingness to contribute to the landscape
The willingness to contribute to the landscape in terms of
time, effort and money differed significantly between the sense
of place clusters (Table 8). From one of the three items, in general willingness to contribute, the clusters differed significantly, as
the willingness was highest among the respondents Committed to
the place. The sum variable of the willingness to contribute was
also highest among them, but the difference between clusters was
not significant. Neither was there a significant difference between
clusters in statements concerning monetary contributions to the
landscape or in voluntary work.
5. Discussion
This study revealed four sense of place components, Attachment
to place, Rootedness, Social relations and Adaptability of place, which
produced four clusters of respondents with a sense of place varying in strength and dimensions. The Socially connected had social
connections, even though they did not have roots in the area. In
the cluster of Weak bonds, the sense of place was generally on
a low level. Roots and resources had strong roots in the region,
and some attachment to the place in emotional terms. Committed to the place comprised residents who were strongly attached
to the place in emotional terms but weakly in social terms. Even
though significant, the differences between the clusters in general
landscape perceptions were relatively small, which might have
resulted from the ‘rurality’ of Finland and Finnish people in general. Most Finns still have strong connections to rural areas, and in
this sense have up to now had relatively positive perceptions of the
rural landscape.
The clusters differed particularly in their perceptions of natural landscape elements. Stronger emotional bonds to the place,
such as among the Committed to place cluster, also associated with
higher landscape evaluations. The cluster of Roots and resources,
to which most farmers belonged, particularly differed from other
clusters in terms of a lower appreciation of the naturalness of the
landscape and higher acceptance of landscape changes. This confirms our presumption based on previous studies (Rogge et al.,
2007; Soini, 2007; Soini, Palang, & Semm, 2006). Furthermore, in
contrast to other clusters, most of the Roots and resources respondents were long-term residents. In this sense, our results were
consistent with the study of Stedman (2006), who found that longterm residents base their sense of place in social relations, whereas
short-term residents base it in the quality of the environment.
Compared to the other clusters, the farmers perceived the region
as less human-altered, which was an interesting result considering that their effect on landscape quality and development is
strongest.
Social bonds have been considered important for place attachment (Raymond et al., 2010; Stewart, Liebert, & Larkin, 2004).
Residents in the clusters Socially connected and Roots and resources,
for whom the sense of place was primarily related to social bonds,
had a relatively low appreciation of the landscape, but they were
open to landscape changes. In turn, those in the clusters Weak bonds
and Committed to place were less socially connected, but perceived
Table 8
Willingness to contribute to the landscape’s future.
Willingness to contribute
I would like to contribute to the landscape’s future
and its management
The area’s residents should bear the majority of the
costs of the landscape’s management
Rural landscapes could be maintained more with
voluntary work
Sum variable
Mean (scale 1 . . . 5)
Socially
connected
Weak
bonds
Roots and
resources
Committed to
the place
All
F-value
p-Value
3.36
3.57
3.51
3.74
3.56
3.12
0.026
2.65
2.66
2.75
2.71
2.69
0.23
0.876
3.42
3.55
3.56
3.56
3.53
0.49
0.691
3.14
3.26
3.28
3.33
3.26
1.60
0.189
132
K. Soini et al. / Landscape and Urban Planning 104 (2012) 124–134
the landscape more positively and were more critical towards landscape change. These results are on the one hand consistent with
previous findings that landscape change in rural areas is not greatly
welcomed due to the high level of affirmative attitudes of citizens
towards rural landscapes (see e.g. Park & Selman, 2009). On the
other hand, the landscape perceptions of the Roots and resources
cluster confirmed the results of earlier studies that have demonstrated a high degree of adaptability to landscape changes among
farmers (Burton, 2004; Rogge et al., 2007; Soini, 2007).
Furthermore, the results also suggest that a sense of place combining emotional attachment to a place and low adaptability may
result in positive attitudes towards the living environment, and also
a willingness to contribute to landscape management, or care of the
place, as was the case in this study in the Committed to place cluster
(see also Smith, Davenport, Anderson, & Leahy, 2011). Regardless of
their active recreation in the area, the Committed to place respondents, who usually were short or mid-term residents, had a low
sense of adaptability to the place. This suggests that they had not
been able to engage in the place, but were consciously seeking a
relationship with it (Manzo, 2003).
To summarize the significance of social and physical components to sense of place and landscape perceptions, this study
suggests that the sense of place of the Roots and resources cluster is mostly constructed by social and physical components of
the place. The Socially connected residents were primarily concerned with social relations, which might of course also be bound
to the physical environment. The Weak bonds and Committed
to place clusters mostly emphasized the physical characteristics
of the place. Considering landscape appreciation and attitudes
towards landscape change, residents in the clusters Socially Connected and Roots and resources seem to consider the landscape as
constantly changing, together with the social and physical bonds
people have with places; in other words, the landscape is seen
as a ‘dwelling place’. Weak bonds and Committed to place clusters, in turn, seem to consider landscape more as a static view,
and they have a clear idea of what a landscape should be like.
However, it should be noted that the relationships people form
with a place are always dynamic and develop with their identity
towards it. Both the sense of place and the way of seeing the landscape evolve together with the place and people’s identity (Manzo,
2003).
6. Conclusions
Based on an empirical case at the rural–urban interface, this
study demonstrated the multiform relationship between sense
of place and landscape perceptions. The study did not reveal
the typical components of the sense of place concept identified
by previous studies, such as place dependence and place identity. Instead, we found multidimensionality of the place relation
expressed with components associated with emotional ties, social
relations, roots and adaptability to the place, which comprised
both social and physical bonds to the place. Adaptability to the
place can be considered as an important and a new component
in sense of place research, as the forming of a relationship with
the place may be a process aiming towards the development of
a strong sense of place (Manzo, 2003). This might be especially
the case at the rural–urban interface, where people are moving
in from urban areas in order to feel more rooted and closer to
nature. The clusters revealed by the analysis did not indicate a
strong or weak sense of place, but rather differences in the place
orientation of the respondents, which were further related to distinct relations with and various perceptions of the landscape. The
study did not demonstrate a strong link between sense of place
and willingness to contribute to landscape management, even
though emotional commitment seems to relate to a greater willingness to participate in landscape management if opportunities
exist.
The study reveals the need of developing new components
and variables for sense of place, which take into consideration
the character of the context. Characteristics for the rural–urban
area are under a change and the heterogeneity both in terms
of visual landscape and social structures is increasing. This
change, in turn, might suggest dynamic character of sense of
place as well, which was in our study indicated by adaptability. In order to understand the dynamic character of the sense
of place a follow-up research within the same case study area
would be valuable in addition to the qualitative and participatory researches, which might provide with additional knowledge
of the shifts in linkages between landscape perceptions and sense
of place.
The study highlighted the use of natural resources (agriculture
and forestry) as a significant cause of contradictions in opinions
concerning landscape change at the rural–urban interface. Such
contradictions can be expected to increase in the future as a relatively smaller proportion of the population earns its livelihood from
natural resources. Our results also indicated differences in perceptions of natural resource use among newcomers, suggesting a high
degree of heterogeneity in landscape perceptions among rural residents at the rural–urban interface. In this situation, it is a challenge
to ensure that all the residents are involved in land use planning,
particularly those who are socially less connected to the area.
K. Soini et al. / Landscape and Urban Planning 104 (2012) 124–134
133
Appendix A.
The factor analysis of the sense of place components. The components with Eigenvalues less than 1 were not selected.
Component
Mean
S.D.
Component
loading
Attachment to place
I prefer these landscapes more than any other
I feel that I can be myself in this region
These landscapes represent the Finnish character to me
I can feel like a part of this landscape
This landscape evokes many memories within me
I’m happy when I’m looking at this landscape
I miss this landscape when I’m away
3.52
4.02
4.22
3.94
3.37
4.04
3.30
1.096
0.909
0.776
0.927
1.273
0.888
1.149
0.599
0.709
0.767
0.817
0.598
0.748
0.667
2.65
2.46
2.16
1.87
1.204
1.648
1.683
1.456
0.452
0.836
0.888
0.858
1.88
1.350
0.443
4.29
3.28
3.63
4.01
4.49
0.906
1.275
1.220
1.109
0.925
0.368
0.549
0.698
0.563
0.705
3.61
0.979
0.543
3.86
0.923
0.529
3.90
1.007
0.445
Rootedness
I know the region inside out
My roots are here
I have spent the majority of my childhood here
This region is important, because my family originates
from here
My livelihood is dependent on the region
Social relations
I care about the future of this landscape
I feel a part of the local community
My social life is here; this is not just a place of residence
I have feelings towards this region
I’m not moving away from this region in the near future
Appreciation of landscape
This landscape holds many features of local history and
culture
The landscape of Nummenpää-Lepsämä is good just the
way it is
The region is important most of all for its environment
(forests and waters)
The region of Nummenpää-Lepsämä is important most of
all for its open field landscapes
Perceived uniqueness of landscape
No other landscapes are comparable with this one
There aren’t many landscapes equally important to this one
3.83
1.005
0.669
2.51
2.25
1.036
1.123
0.797
0.719
Adaptability of use
I feel like I’m able to move freely in the landscape
I don’t need more forest surroundings for recreation
There aren’t any disturbing details in the landscape
I know my neighbourhood
3.79
3.03
2.84
3.35
1.092
1.271
1.055
1.303
0.532
0.710
0.281
0.451
Landscape satisfaction
I like the landscape’s topography
I don’t need bigger lakes or rivers
I don’t miss my childhood landscape elements
3.78
2.43
2.95
1.011
1.154
1.133
0.675
0.639
0.529
Eigenvalue
% of
variance
Cumulative
%
Cronbach’s
˛
4.71
15.2
15.2
0.893
3.43
11.1
26.3
0.832
2.38
7.7
33.9
0.749
2.06
6.6
40.6
0.679
1.92
6.2
46.8
0.648
1.61
5.2
52.0
0.479
1.47
4.8
6.8
0.377
Kaiser–Meyer–Olkin measure of sampling adequacy = 0.906. Chi-squared = 6714.311. Bartlett’s test of sphericity, p = 0.000.
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