An interesting post that I spotted on the Strange Maps blog. The article looks at placenames in a metropolitan (built up) environment. Quite often, unlike in rural areas, there is no clear demarcation between different areas. So how do you know when you are one suburb or another?
The article looks at a number of “places” in and around London. The technique is quite simple, to walk along a main road, stopping at regular intervals to ask 10 random people “what area is this?” The results can then be plotted to see if peoples perception of place is discernible. The technique is not hugely scientific, but then you are dealing with subjective opinions so that doesn’t matter all that much. Similar studies have used base maps onto which people draw the boundary of a place. In these studies care has to be taken to remove any place names that would in some way lead the respondent and bias the results of the survey.
You can read more about the Dalston survey on Euan Mills’ Blog