Place Perception and Social Interaction on an Exurban Landscape in Central Colorado


  • *This research was made possible by generous support from the University of Kansas Department of Geography and the University of Missouri Center for Arts & Humanities. The authors thank Elaine Lawless, Jim Whitworth, Matt Foulkes, Hilary Hungerford, Jason Dittmer, Mark Bowen, and the anonymous reviewers whose critiques on an earlier draft produced a stronger final manuscript. All remaining errors and omissions are the responsibility of the authors.


An assumption commonly made in research on exurbanization is that the subdivision of land ownership necessarily creates a socially divisive landscape devoid of shared place perceptions and concerns. This article presents the results of an ethnography project undertaken in a former Colorado ranching valley that is currently exurbanizing. The study revealed not only the emergence of social networks and groups among new residents, but also the presence of distinct themes in place perception and assessment within these assemblages. In particular, the results indicated that concerns about natural hazards and environmental limitations have motivated new residents to interact with one another.