Place and city: merging our affective and social spatial dimension in the (smart) platial city

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


We are living in (smart) cities that hold social-oriented promises but currently, most of these cities disregard the humans. Although some alternatives are appearing such as smart citizen-centric approaches, there is a lack of how promoting truly appealing perspectives toward a common good or better social synergies. Thereby, smart cities, with their associated Information and Communication Technology tools, are offering new possibilities, but, unfortunately, citizens are not fully exploiting the opportunities to empower themselves because, among other reasons, they are not aware of their common spatialities. Currently, we are not able to operationalize the spatial humanurban interactions regarding citizens’ cognitions, feelings and behaviors towards city places (i.e., sense of place) and meaningful geographic human relationships (i.e., social capital). Both concepts are significant as resources for an alternative landscape based on human perception and organization of social interactions fostered through the geographic place(s). In this research, we highlight the need to understand and operationalize social concepts spatial dimension for a better understanding of a smart citizen-centric approach which is mainly dependent on our capability to understand platial urban dynamics. We conceptualized a (spatial) conceptual framework for sense of place and social capital at the individual level to study their spatial relationship in the urban context. We developed a web map-based survey based on the literature to spatialize, characterize and measure sense of place, social capital and civic engagement. Using the spatial data collected, we validated our framework and demonstrated the importance to encompass the spatial dimension of social concepts (i.e., sense of place and social capital) as pivotal aspect (1) to understand the platial urban dynamics; (2) to provide useful social-spatial data to city processes (e.g. civic engagement); and (3) to reveal the potential to include them in social theory and structural equation models. Furthermore, we highlighted the crucial role of Geographic Information Science (GISc) techniques to gather the spatial dimension of those social concepts. Although in this research we focus on the spatial relationship between sense of place and social capital on civic engagement, the possibilities to relate our framework and methodology to other city based-notions can bring to light new platial urban dynamics. This research wants to open up the agenda for further research into exploratory place-based geography studies and, simultaneously, sets up a common social ground to build other socially-oriented conceptualizations or applications on top of it.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • NOVA Information Management School (NOVA IMS)
  • Universidad Jaume I
  • University of Münster
  • Painho, Marco, Supervisor
  • Kray, Christian, Supervisor, External person
  • Casteleyn, Sven, Supervisor, External person
Award date28 Nov 2018
Publication statusPublished - 28 Nov 2018


  • sense of place
  • social capital
  • spatial dimension
  • platial urban dynamic
  • urban intelligence
  • civic engagement


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