Socio-Spatial Mapping

Identifying place qualities and local knowledge

Understanding a place and its complexity requires being present at the location and using different methods and perspectives. Students identify place qualities – functional, natural, social – and local knowledge – informal knowledge that people have about their places, territory, local uses and local culture.

With this tool, students immerse themselves in the local environment and integrate more objective data (observations) with experiences (conversations) into a map.End users, local stakeholders with valuable knowledge, are considered experts. In addition, observing the area yields useful information about the status quo.

Socio-spatial mapping serves as an introduction to data-gathering. The student learns to see a place and listen to its users, without judging. The tool helps students to understand the importance of using their senses and combining different methods in location research. They learn who is in a place and their interests, wishes and limitations.

Drawing upon insights from sociology, urban psychology and anthropology, socio-spatial mapping can be used to gather data from different perspectives (i.e., interviewer perspective or observant perspective) and integrate them. Consequently, this information can be used to:

(1) get a better understanding of a public space (its facilities and experiences);
(2) b
e a conversation starter for researchers from different perspectives;
(3) p
rovide starting points for further research.

Learning outcome

  • The student is able to combine observations and conversations to investigate a place and create an integrated map that encapsulates diverse perspectives on a local environment