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Perceiving the Ordinary: A Study of Everyday Landscapes in Belgium



Landscape researchers have devoted relatively little attention to ordinary or everyday landscapes. This paper investigates differences in opinion about the attractiveness of these landscapes between groups of people according to their linguistic area and other socio-demographic characteristics. A survey of 1,542 Dutch and French speakers in Belgium using photo-questionnaires depicted the different types of Belgian rural landscape. Significant differences were observed regarding landscapes containing the same features, allowing to posit, to test, and to validate certain hypotheses. Dutch speakers found chessboard agrarian landscapes more attractive. Less educated participants felt more positive towards anthropogenic landscapes. Women were more attracted by farmed fields. Qualitative data added depth to the analysis, permitting to explore different ways in which people related to the landscape pictures. For a theoretical interpretation, we draw on Gibson's affordances theory and we revisit Larrère & Larrère's ways of looking at landscape theory.