Acta Geographica Sinica ›› 2015, Vol. 70 ›› Issue (10): 1606-1621.doi: 10.11821/dlxb201510006

• Rural Settlement and Tourism Geography • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Meaning space structure of rural community in Han Chang'an City Historical Site

Zhenbin ZHAO(), Yujie CHU, Ting HAO, Cheng ZHANG   

  1. College of Tourism and Environment, Shaanxi Normal University, Xi'an 710062, China
  • Received:2015-02-03 Revised:2015-06-05 Online:2015-10-20 Published:2015-10-20
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China, No.41171126;Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, No.GK201401006


In the period of rapid urbanization of China at present, studies on the meaning space structure in rural villages will be helpful for understanding the complicated psychological bond between community members and residential settings, and conducive to mitigate social frictions and conflicts caused by non-economic factors in the village demolition and relocation process. In this research, data were collected by semi-structured interview and participatory mapping techniques, and 251 residents from 9 villages were investigated. Those villages would be removed and relocated for the registration of Han Chang'an City Historical Site as a UNESCO World Culture Heritage. Through qualitative analysis of the interviews, 12 place feature categories, 7 place meaning categories and 34 place meaning sub-categories were identified. Based on the above attribute analysis, cross-tabulation analysis was used to examine the association between place features and meanings, and GIS tool was used to reveal and visualize the residents' place perception spatial configuration. The findings show that village, culture relics, house and people are among the significant place features, and person-place fit, personal feelings, historical-cultural connection, values and accomplishments are the important meaning categories. As the carriers, place features symbolize place meanings in both collective and selective ways. Place features form a system together with associated meanings, by which the place is defined and distinguished from other places. In addition, there exists a spatial pattern of residents' perceptions, which is characterized by the perception hotspot areas around the villages and relics, carrying important place meanings of local people in the study area. Feeling connection, place fit and personal identity make sense for the explanation to the revealed meaning space structure. The extending suggestion of this study is that the preservation of typical place features for local people in some forms will be helpful for the removal communities preserving homeland attachment.

Key words: place feature, meaning space, qualitative analysis, participatory mapping, Han Chang'an City Historical Site, rural community