The presence of others who see what we see and hear what we hear assures us of the reality of the world and of ourselves.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Proxemics of Space

In 1957 a doctor named Humphrey Osmond began observing the effects of environmental change on the interactions of patients in a mental hospital in Saskatchewan. From that research he eventually identified two major systems for patterning space. Sociofugal space (gridlike) tends to keep people apart and suppress communication while sociopetal space (radial) does just the opposite. It brings people together and stimulates interaction as routes merge and overlap. Many other researchers followed in Osmond’s footsteps, developing a body of work known as “proxemics” to describe the cultural distinctions between intimate, personal, social and public space. The Hidden Dimension by Edward T. Hall is a classic reference on the spatial aspects of human interaction.

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