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Home


Home refers to the geographic region, place, or dwelling that family members identify as a familiar residence to which they can return. Home is not a physical structure, but a complex symbolic concept. The symbols of home are constructed from references to physical, temporal, and affective, or emotional, dimensions of everyday acts of dwelling.


Physical Dimension

The physical dimension of home helps to locate what is home. It is inappropriate to use the terms house and home interchangeably. Families may identify housing as home, but home is not necessarily a domicile (permanent legal residence). Designation of what is home depends on specification and extent of the concept. John Hollander (1993) suggests that home is conceptual concentric circles radiating outward, with the surface of the world as the outermost circle. The smallest central point of the concentricities might be the place of greatest hominess. Moving outward are the broader, public places, such as cities or regions, which are considered home. The notion that home is a community of people in a region comes from the German heimat or homeland. This is a collective sense of home rather than the personal and private sense of home of individuals and families.

A place is a home if it is familiar. A place becomes familiar and eventually considered a home through successive interactions with the place. Repeated interactions through organized patterns of routines yield recognition of actions and place. Frequent and regular family interactions associated with daily acts of living (e.g., food preparation, sleeping, childcare) or repetitive family and community rituals held in a specific place can contribute to familiarity with a residence or a territory.

The place that is home must have a regular physical appearance so that it is recognizable. Too much variation in the place will not elicit enough recognition over time to generate a sense of familiarity. Some stability in the environment may exist, but stability can also be controlled by the family. For example, furnishings in a house are often arranged in patterns and allowed to remain for a period. This regularity permits recognition of the place as familiar rather than strange. Thus, people act as agents in the construction and arrangement of the physical dimension of home (Douglas 1993).


Time Dimension

The idea that a residence becomes familiar through repeated interactions between individuals and a place inherently incorporates the concept of time, the second dimension of home. Time is required to accommodate replicable interactions between individuals in a place (for example, between family members residing in a house) and between individuals and a place (for example, between an individual and a living room). Too much time between interactions will reduce the opportunity to construct a cognitive representation of a familiar and predictable place.

When individuals are absent from home for a long period, the place may be perceived as strange and unfamiliar because the place and/or the individual may have changed during the interim. Alfred Schutz (1945) describes how the homecomer may feel like a stranger in a home territory because the formerly familiar place does not conform to expectations constructed from past experiences.


Affective Dimension

Home is more than a sense of recognition and familiarity with a place. The definition of home also includes the idea that it is a place to which family members intend to return. This symbolic orientation toward a place involves affect, or emotion, the third dimension of home. The feelings associated with the cognitive representation of a place assist in activating the inclination or desire to return and generating a sense of home.

People experience a sense of being at home in the inner concentric circles of home. A journey toward the outer circles can elicit feelings of strangeness. At the center of home, the strangeness dissipates and is replaced by ease because the surroundings are familiar. Actions within the place are known or easily remembered (such as knowing the rules for moving about a place) so that less effort is required to understand and interact with the immediate environment. The intimate knowledge about how to act and the behavioral habits or rituals associated with home elicit a sense of control over the home territory (Lyman and Scott 1967). Control does not necessarily mean legal ownership or possession of a physical space; the possession of the territory through habits of daily living is a part of a sense of home.

A sense of control over a territory can include the notion that the place is private or not under surveillance. The idea of privacy has emerged in association with home over the past few centuries (Stone 1991). Some social activities are viewed as public and therefore can be available to be observed by larger groups of people. Surveillance of other activities by the public is less desirable, eliciting a desire for privacy. Peter Wilson (1988) suggests that symbolic boundaries of the home provide indicators of what is private for the household. Territory inside the home that restricts access to nonmembers is considered to have greater privacy than areas that outsiders may more easily enter.

Restricting access to the home is associated with maintaining a sense of safety from the outside world. Home is a retreat from the strange, dangerous, or polluted external world (Rybczynski 1986). Inside the home, the physical setting is treated as private, familiar, and protective of occupants. Interestingly, efforts to create and maintain privacy introduce a lack of freedom. Walling out the outside to gain privacy involves being walled in, with an associated loss of freedom (Schama 1987).

Privacy within the home also emerged from the creation of the need for quiet to accommodate contemplation and concentration; activities such as reading and writing became associated with the need for a private space that is protected from the noise and chaos of the outside world (Stone 1991). Witold Rybczynski (1986) suggests that the physical and emotional comfort associated with home has emerged in coordination with the development of technology (e.g., sources of heat in colder climates and designs of chairs). Home is a place that is familiar, the physical attributes of the place are coordinated to help the human body feel at ease, and the acts of daily living are fairly convenient. At home, families feel at ease both physically and emotionally.

A place can be designed and decorated to create home as a comfortable place; however, the décor does not make it a home. Some places do not facilitate the ability to feel a sense of privacy or physical comfort, or a sense of emotional ease through esthetics. Joseph Rykwert (1993) notes that the decoration and design of buildings can alienate people by bringing about a feeling of discomfort. Discomfort is also experienced in the strange territories away from home.

Moving far away from the home territory to an unfamiliar place can elicit a longing for home. Sojourns to distant places can be experienced as yearning for the familiar, or nostalgia. Interestingly, nostalgia is derived from the Greek word nostos, which means a homeward journey (Hollander 1993). Longing for home may motivate families or family members to enact the familiar rituals of home in an effort to secure a degree of comfort. For example, Arctic explorers recreated family rituals as a way of coping with being in adverse conditions and away from their homes for long periods of time (Johnson and Suedfeld 1996). Additionally, families may use possessions associated with home, such as furniture or decorations, to replicate home in a new place. The possessions help to recreate the familiar place associated with home.

Removal from, or dispossession of, a home may be experienced as a sense of loss. For example, families living in exile may feel deprived of a sense of belonging to a place. The loss, however, may be diminished by efforts to continue of the familiar patterns of family activity in another less familiar place. The study of families who migrate away from their homes reveals the types of efforts to create a place that replicates the former home. For example, Anne-Marie Fortier (2000) describes how Italian migrants to England replicate some aspects of their original home and homeland through rituals, celebrations, and decoration of buildings. Replication of home reduces the distress associated with the loss of home and contributes to a sense of belonging rather than alienation.

Orientation to a place that is considered home may contribute to the social identity of family members. Indeed, Geoffrey Hayward (1975) views home as the manifestation of family identity, which is one type of social identity. Social identity refers to the knowledge of membership in a group and the emotional significance attached to that group (Tajfel 1981). Individuals who recognize a common home are part of a group attached to a place. The emotional significance of the group is associated with the affective dimension of home. Thus, home contributes to a social identity that is defined, to a certain extent, by the physical dimension of the home as well as the affective response to the place.

Social identity associated with home is important for the study of families in an increasingly mobile world. An important related notion is diaspora, which is a group of people who have been dispersed from their home for economic, social, or political reasons. Families who are displaced from a home region do not lose their sense of home or homeland, but often are waiting for an opportunity to go home. If they cannot go home, displaced families re-create home in a strange place generating a distinct social identity that is a combination of the new strange land of refuge and the homeland. For these families, daily living is oriented to the homeland but in a place that is not considered home. While some families are dispersed from their homes, other families choose to move because of the increasingly global market economy. What is not clear is how very mobile families manage their social identity and a sense of belonging associated with the familiarity and comfort of home while pursuing an income by moving repeatedly.


See also:Commuter Marriages; Computers and Families; Family Rituals; Food; Homeless Families; Housework; Housing; Migration; Television and Families


Bibliography

douglas, m. (1993). "the idea of a home: a kind ofspace." in home: a place in the world, ed. a. mack. new york: new york university press.

fortier, a. (2000). migrant belongings: memory, space,identity. new york: berg.

hayward, g. d. (1975). "home as an environmental andpsychological concept." landscape 20:2–9.

hollander, j. (1993). "it all depends." in home: a place in the world, ed. a. mack. new york: new york university press.

johnson, p. j., and suedfeld, p. (1996). "coping with stressthrough creating microcosms of home and family among arctic whalers and explorers." the history of the family: an international quarterly 1:41–62.

lyman, s. m., and scott, m. b. (1967). "territoriality: a neglected sociological dimension." social problems 15:236–249.

rybczynski, w. (1986). home: a short history of an idea.new york: penguin books.

rykwert, j. (1993). "house and home." in home: a place in the world, ed. a. mack. new york: new york university press.

schama, s. (1987). the embarrassment of riches: an interpretation of dutch culture in the golden age. new york: alfred a. knopf.

schutz, a. (1945). "the homecomer." the american journal of sociology 50:363–376.

stone, l. (1991). "the public and the private in the statelyhomes of england, 1500-1990." social research 58:227–253.

tajfel, h. (1981). human groups and social categories:studies in social psychology. cambridge: cambridge university press.

wilson, p. j. (1988). the domestication of the humanspecies. new haven, ct: yale university press.

sheila k. marshall

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home

home / hōm/ • n. 1. the place where one lives permanently, esp. as a member of a family or household: I was nineteen when I left home and went to college they have made Provence their home. ∎  the family or social unit occupying such a place: he came from a good home and was well educated. ∎  a house or an apartment considered as a commercial property: low-cost homes for first-time buyers. ∎  a place where something flourishes, is most typically found, or from which it originates: Piedmont is the home of Italy's finest red wines. ∎ inf. a place where an object is kept. 2. an institution for people needing professional care or supervision: an old people's home. 3. Sports the goal or end point. ∎  the place where a player is free from attack. ∎  (in lacrosse) each of the three players stationed nearest their opponents's goal. ∎  Baseball short for home plate. ∎  a game played or won by a team on their own ground. • adj. 1. of or relating to the place where one lives: I don't have your home address. ∎  made, done, or intended for use in the place where one lives: traditional home cooking. ∎  relating to one's own country and its domestic affairs: Japanese competitors are selling cars for lower prices in the U.S. than in their home market. 2. (of a sports team or player) belonging to the country or locality in which a sporting event takes place: the home team. ∎  played on or connected with a team's own ground: their first home game of the season. 3. denoting the administrative center of an organization: the company has moved its home office. • adv. to the place where one lives: what time did he get home last night? ∎  in or at the place where one lives: I stayed home with the kids. ∎  to the end or conclusion of a race or something difficult: the favorite romped home six lengths clear. ∎  Baseball to or toward home plate. ∎  to the intended or correct position: he drove the bolt home noisily. • v. [intr.] 1. (of an animal) return by instinct to its territory after leaving it: a dozen geese homing to their summer nesting grounds. ∎  (of a pigeon bred for long-distance racing) fly back to or arrive at its loft after being released at a distant point. 2. (home in on) move or be aimed toward (a target or destination) with great accuracy: more than 100 missiles were launched, homing in on radar emissions. ∎  focus attention on: a teaching style that homes in on what is of central importance for each student. PHRASES: at home in one's own house. ∎  in one's own neighborhood, town, or country: he has been consistently successful both at home and abroad. ∎  comfortable and at ease in a place or situation: sit down and make yourself at home. ∎  confident or relaxed about doing or using something: he was quite at home talking about Eisenstein or Brecht. ∎  ready to receive and welcome visitors: she took to her room and was not at home to friends. ∎  (with reference to sports fixtures) at a team's own ground: Houston lost at home to Phoenix. bring something home to someone make someone realize the full significance of something: her first-hand account brought home to me the pain of the experience. close (or near) to home (of a remark or topic of discussion) relevant or accurate to the point that one feels uncomfortable or embarrassed. come home Golf play the second nine holes in a round of eighteen holes. Compare with go out (see go1 ). come home to someone (of the significance of something) become fully realized by someone: the full enormity of what was happening came home to Sara. drive (or hammer or press or ram) something home make something clearly and fully understood by the use of repeated or forcefully direct arguments. hit (or strike) home (of a blow or a missile) reach an intended target. ∎  (of words) have the intended, esp. unsettling or painful, effect on their audience: she could see that her remark had hit home. ∎  (of the significance or true nature of a situation) become fully realized by someone: the full impact of life as a celebrity began to hit home. home free having successfully achieved or being within sight of achieving one's objective: at 7–0 they should have been home free.a home away from home a place where one is as happy, relaxed, or comfortable as in one's own home. home sweet home used as an expression of one's pleasure or relief at being in or returning to one's own home.DERIVATIVES: home·like / ˈhōmˌlīk/ adj.

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home

home Home Counties the English counties surrounding London, into which London has extended. They comprise chiefly Essex, Kent, Surrey, and Hertfordshire.Home Guard the British citizen army organized in 1940 to defend the UK against invasion, finally disbanded in 1957.
home is home, as the Devil said when he found himself in the Court of Session Scottish proverbial saying, mid 19th century; the Court of Session is the supreme civil tribunal of Scotland, established in 1532.
home is home though it's never so homely no place can compare with one's own home (the archaic phrase never so means ‘ever so’ or ‘very’). The saying is recorded from the mid 16th century.
home is where the heart is one's true home is wherever the person one loves most is; proverbial saying, late 19th century.
home of lost causes a name for Oxford; originally a quotation from Matthew Arnold's Essays in Criticism (1865).
home rule the government of a colony, dependent country, or region by its own citizens, in particular as advocated for Ireland 1870–1914. The campaign for Irish home rule was one of the dominant forces in British politics in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

See also charity begins at home, east, west, home's best, go abroad and you'll hear news of home, there's no place like home, when one's ship comes home.

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home

home house, abode OE.; native place XIV; one's own place or country XVI. OE. hām n. collection of dwellings, village, estate, house, corr. to OS. hēm (Du. heem), (O)HG. heim n., ON. heimr m., Goth. haims fem. village; ult. relations disputed.
Hence vb. go home XVIII; whence (of birds) homer, homing XIX. homely †domestic, familiar; plain, simple XIV; uncomely XVI.

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home

homebrome, chrome, comb, Crome, dome, foam, gnome, holm, Holme, hom, home, Jerome, loam, Nome, ohm, om, roam, Rome, tome •Guillaume • biome • Beerbohm •radome • astrodome • Styrofoam •megohm • Stockholm • Bornholm •motorhome • backcomb • honeycomb •cockscomb, coxcomb •toothcomb • genome • gastronome •metronome • syndrome • palindrome •polychrome • Nichrome •monochrome • velodrome •hippodrome • aerodrome •cyclostome • rhizome

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