Place Attachment as an Interactional Process: A Case Study of Isle au Haut, Maine
Woosnam, Kyle Maurice
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By listening to peoples' constructed stories of special places, the average person begins to understand why and how attachments to places form. This study concerns the attachments residents of Isle au Haut, Maine possess on the remote island, which borders part of Acadia National Park. The purpose of this study is to uncover social components of both place attachment and place identity among island residents as well as explain the process by which those residents form attachments. Twelve interviews were conducted both on Isle au Haut as well as nearby Mount Desert Island. Qualitative data were collected from a purposive sample of island residents and National Park Service employees who are responsible for managing the park on the island. In-depth interviews were the sole means of data collection and provided detailed stories of life on the island and attachments that have formed. This study uses grounded theory techniques in data analysis to ultimately form a theory grounded in the collected data. The findings from this study indicate that social interaction is key to residents forming an attachment to Isle au Haut. Further, three major social constructs emerged from the data analysis. Those constructs are sense of community, shared purpose, and shared history, all of which were found to contribute to place identity and place attachment among the residents. The results also suggest place identity as more salient than place dependence in residents' narratives concerning their attachment to the island.
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