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A Sense of Place in a ‘Third Place’

Authors: Beth Clifton*, University of California, Merced, Catherine Keske, University of California, Merced
Topics: Food Systems, Economic Geography, Behavioral Geography
Keywords: Sense of Place, Third Place, Food Security, Fast Food, Place Attachment
Session Type: Paper
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Third places are locations that are frequented, like restaurants, stores, coffee shops, and urban centers that do not fall within the locations traditionally found in sense of place literature but may have distinct emotional attachment placed upon them by patrons. This study assesses the sense of place aspects bestowed upon fast food establishments by young adults. Advertisements and marketing primarily target this age group as the ideal customer. But do young adults feel attachment to establishments that can be found throughout most cities and, in some cases, every few corners? With fast food establishments’ availability, even in areas identified as food deserts, a sense of place associated with these types of restaurants may take over the typical concept of place attachment to eating within their home. This presentation provides results from a likert scale survey from 500 participants addressing this question in a sample of young adults who are primarily first generation college students. These results quantitatively connect consumers with restaurants which have typically been referred to as third places, on the rare occasion they are discussed in the sense of place literature at all. Using quantitative factor analysis, results indicate key components that drive place attachment such as ‘a sense of familiarity’, ‘a sense of comfort’, and a ‘preference to dine in’ in these locations.

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