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  According to Buttimer (1976), \'the culturally defined spatio-temporal setting or horizon of everyday life\', lifeworld encompasses the totality of an individual person\'s direct involvement with the places and environments experienced in ordinary life.

The term originates in German phenomenology as Lebenswelt, which signifies a relationship of intentionality between a conscious and imaginative human subject and the external world as it is given unreflexively to individual human attention. Thus it incorporates both the conscious projects which shape human existence with respect to the world of experience, as well as a more passive sense of that world impacting upon ourselves, thereby generating the idea of a field of care: the meaningful subjectivity of the experienced world in the frame of an individual\'s life. It is within the lifeworld that meaning is attributed to external phenomena through intuitive experiences and relationships with them. Phenomenological philosophies give attention to the apparently trivial phenomena of a lifeworld, using the possessive pronoun to denote the field of care — my embodied experiences, being in my birthplace, my home. This distinguishes phenomenologically informed explorations of place and space from more positivist and structuralist approaches which, respectively, presuppose such matters but leave them unexamined or regard them as epiphenomenal to more impersonal forces shaping human existence. In the classic phenomenological formulation of the époché, close attention to such phenomena, freed as far as possible from a priori presuppositions and as they are constituted in consciousness, gives access to truths about them and about ourselves. This conception of the lifeworld was much studied in humanistic geography in the 1970s and 1980s in its concern to understand places and environments without accepting the analytical separation of subject from object (Buttimer and Seamon, 1980). From this perspective, geographic phenomena such as places, environments and communities become understood as material realizations of fields of care.

In geography the concept of the lifeworld has directed attention to the significance of everyday life and the personal, meaningful geographies developed and practised within it (see taken-for-granted world). The concept\'s use denotes opposition to the more distant, analytical and manipulative approaches of spatial science and planning spatial organization or behaviour. Thus, from the person-centred perspective of the lifeworld, place is more important than space, and geographical investigation is required to honour the experiences, imagination and attachments of intentional human subjects. More recent geographical studies of place have recognized the dangers of essentializing human experience and identity, and that in shaping the sense of place individual lifeworlds are never entirely disconnected from more structural constraints upon consciousness and action, and have therefore sought to incorporate both into geographical investigation (Pickles, 1987). On the other hand, geographical studies of the subject and its embodied identities since the 1980s have tended to ignore the concept of individually shaped and coherent lifeworlds in favour of more fluid notions of selfhood and place identity (Pile and Thrift, 1995; cf. body, geography and). (DEC)

References Buttimer, A. 1976: Grasping the dynamics of the lifeworld. Annals, Association of American Geographers 66: 277-92. Buttimer, A. and Seamon, D. 1980: The human experience of space and place. London: Croom Helm. Pickles, J. 1987: Geography and humanism. Norwich: GeoBooks. Pile, S. and Thrift, N., eds, 1995: Mapping the subject: geographies of cultural transformation. London and New York: Routledge.

Suggested Reading Rodaway, P. 1994: Sensuous geographies: body, sense and place. London and New York: Routledge. Seamon, D. 1979: A geography of the lifeworld: movement, rest and encounter. London: Croom Helm.



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