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Understanding home: a critical review of the literature



In recent years there has been a proliferation of writing on the meaning of home within the disciplines of sociology, anthropology, psychology, human geography, history, architecture and philosophy. Although many researchers now understand home as a multidimensional concept and acknowledge the presence of and need for multidisciplinary research in the field, there has been little sustained reflection and critique of the multidisciplinary field of home research and the diverse, even contradictory meanings of this term. This paper brings together and examines the dominant and recurring ideas about home represented in the relevant theoretical and empirical literature. It raises the question whether or not home is (a) place(s), (a) space(s), feeling(s), practices, and/or an active state of state of being in the world? Home is variously described in the literature as conflated with or related to house, family, haven, self, gender, and journeying. Many authors also consider notions of being-at-home, creating or making home and the ideal home. In an effort to facilitate interdisciplinary conversations about the meaning and experience of home each of these themes are briefly considered in this critical literature review.