Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Assessing Place Character in Response to Wal-Mart

Reinke, Dana Colleen (2007) Assessing Place Character in Response to Wal-Mart. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (2MB) | Preview


Community members across U.S. municipalities grow more vocal in their concerns about how outside retail corporations shape local community life. The way these residents respond to nation-global corporations, and the way they make arguments about what it means to live in their community, is an interesting social phenomenon. By studying community response to "big box" retail development I answer the question: how does a geographic location become ascribed with a definition of community? Utilizing geographic theorist Krista Paulsen's place character element as an analytic tool to understand a local response to potential development of a Wal-Mart Supercenter, I examine definitions of community as they relate to issues of consumption practices and community relations. These issues were identified through various methodologies including ethnography, semi-structured interviews, historical narrative analysis and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) demographic data.Building on sociologist Thomas Gieryn's "sociology of place" framework, I uncovered new aspects of the socio-cultural, political and economic makeup of the communities studied. This makeup is represented in the material, social practices and symbolic characteristics by which people denote local place character. Identifying these characteristics is an important step in understanding why social movements occur where they do, the nature of the emplaced social movement activity, and what inspires community members to respond to what they perceive as an external threat. My research findings advance a place-sensitive sociology that reintroduces the role of community as a part of an individual's identity. By expanding the definition of community beyond the geographical setting, the built location and the meanings and values associated with a place, can be studied as part of individual's response to social change. Additionally, my research finds that a place-sensitive sociology is also important for understanding the varied and nuanced ways that globalization impacts various scales, particularly the local. As the traditional national barriers to the global flow of people and commerce are eroded, local communities will increasingly become a focal point at which globalization can be challenged.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Reinke, Dana Colleendarst61@pitt.eduDARST61
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairBlee, Kathleen Mkblee@pitt.eduKBLEE
Committee MemberGreen, Cecilia Acagreen@pitt.eduCAGREEN
Committee MemberDoriean, Patrickpitpat@pitt.eduPITPAT
Committee MemberDietrick, Sabina
Date: 30 January 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 21 November 2006
Approval Date: 30 January 2007
Submission Date: 6 October 2006
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Sociology
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: social geography; sociology of place; consumption; Pittsburgh; Wal-Mart; community
Other ID:, etd-10062006-152417
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:02
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:50


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item