Construction of Safety in Daily Living: The Role of Personal Experience and Perception

Authors: Autumn C. James*, Northern Illinois University
Topics: Behavioral Geography, Qualitative Research
Keywords: Perception, behavioral geography, qualitative methods, criminal victimization
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/10/2018
Start / End Time: 2:40 PM / 4:20 PM
Room: Studio 1, Marriott, 2nd Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


While it is recognized that individuals perceive and process their surroundings individually, little is known about how this perception process influences the construction of daily activities. This research explores how individuals construct meaning and perceive surroundings in their daily lives to better understand decision processes. Further examined is how criminal victimization influences this process. By examining how individuals with varying criminal victimization experience perceive safe or unsafe surroundings, and how individuals select surroundings in their daily lives, a more comprehensive understanding of how decision variables are constructed and considered when individuals can control the spaces they enter, and engage, can be achieved. Activity mapping and semi-structured interviews were used to examine the factors that individuals associate with safe or unsafe surroundings in their day-to day activities. Activity mapping participants took photographs of places that were encountered during their daily routine, and explained what made each safe or unsafe. Data was analyzed using content analysis to identify common words, phrasing and broad themes. Semi-structured interviews supplemented the data collected, providing additional insight on criminal victimization experience, interaction with people in spaces, and how individuals assess the safety of surroundings in their daily activities. Results indicate that individuals typically do not navigate space in a manner that economizes time and space, rather they base their decisions overwhelmingly on emotional responses depending on how safe their surroundings feel to them.

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