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    1/25 in Human Geography online version of this article can be found at:

    DOI: 10.1177/030913258200600102

    1982 6: 44Prog Hum GeogrJohn R. Gold

    Territoriality and human spatial behaviour

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    Territoriality and human spatial behaviour

    by John R. Gold

    For he has given you gifts for governing yourself freely;These are Wit and Free Will; each creature has its portion,Flying fowls and fish and mammals,But man has the most, and is the most blameworthy

    William Langland Piers Plowman

    The role that territories and boundaries play in human affairs needs little intro.duction. Quite apart from the fact that many activities are organized on a terri-torial basis, a significant proportion of human behaviour is directed, explicitlyand implicitly, towards partitioning space and towards maintaining the territo.ries and boundaries so formed. Indeed, such behaviour is intrinsic to the verynotion of territory, as the etymology of that word would suggest. Derived bothfrom the Latin noun terra (earth, land) and verb terrere (to warn or frighten ofo,territory implies as defended as well as a bounded space, with connotations ofattachment and exctusiveness (although see also Gottmann, 1973,16).

    Yet while the concept of territory may be familiar, it is only recently that

    much effort has been directed towards increasing our understanding of terri-toriality - the processes and mechanisms by which people establish, maintain,and defend territories. In this context, the major influence has been the revivalin the social sciences of the zoological perspective (Tiger and Fox, 1966), orthe view that holds that much present-day human behaviour has been shaped byevolutionary processes. The development has renewed interest in instinct theory(e.g. Pfeiffer, 1969; McGaugh, 1971;Appleton, 1975; Midgely, 1978; Lockard,1979) and has generated a favourable climate for the emergence of such new

    disciplinary syntheses as sociobiology (Wilson, 1975; 1979; Barash, 1977; Chagnonand Irons, 1979) and human ethology (Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 1970; 1979; Fox and

    Pleishing, 1976; Cranach et al., 1979). Each has given impetus to research on

    territoriality, but the greatest stimulus has come from the extension of ethology -the comparative study of animals in their natural habitat - to human behaviour.

    Ethologists have developed a substantial body of knowledge about the role of

    territoriality in the social organization of animal species: material that manywriters have considered could be extended profitably to apply to human society.Certainly geographers quickly recognized the fresh perspectives that this research

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    could bring to the study of human spatial behaviour (e.g. Saarinen, 1969; Eyles,1971; Goodey, 1971) and, notwithstanding some expressions of doubt and reser-vation (e.g. Rieser, 1973; Claval, 1980), territoriality has become subsequently a

    staple part of research and teaching in behavioural geography (Gold, 1977, 41-2).This paper appraises the current status, value, and potential of the ethological

    view of territoriality for the geographer. The first two sections respectively con-sider the nature of animal and human territoriality, showing that whatever simi-larities may exist in the form of behaviour, there are differences in the underlying

    processes. Viewing human territoriality as an incisive and flexible analogy, the

    paper then proceeds to a representative selection of literature relating respect-

    ively to preindustrial and urban societies. The concluding section reiterates the

    central theme: namely, that when applied carefully as an analogy, territorialityaffords insight into human spatial behaviour and provides a framework by which

    geographers can profit from a rapidly growing area of multidisciplinary research.

    I Animal territoriality

    Before the mid nineteenth century, most knowledge about animal behaviourstemmed either from writings by amateur naturalists or from popular animallore. The scientific study of animal behaviour, therefore, was largely a productof the period of intellectual ferment that began with the publication ofthe theoriesof evolution by natural selection propounded by Charles Darwin andAlfred Russel

    Wallace. The new mood of evolutionism to which they contributed (Goudge,1967) was to revolutionize the behavioural sciences. It firmly established instinct

    theory, redirected attention towards explanation rather than the endless concernwith classification, and encouraged a comparative approach, wherein differences in

    animal behaviour were interpreted in their evolutionary perspective.The development of scientific understanding of territoriality mirrors this back-

    ground.Although passing references can be found in much earlier works, the first

    significant treatise was BernardAltums Der V6gel und sein Leben published in186S (Huxley and Fisher, 1948, 7).Altum rejected the anthropomorphism that

    pervaded ornithological thought in his time, arguing that animals were impelledby instinct rather than thinking and acting like human beings. The territorial

    urges of birds and associated display behaviours were regarded as being part of aninstinctive pattern of behaviour that had evolutionary implications.

    Lack of translation, however, madeAltums work inaccessible to the English-

    speaking scientific community. By the time that evenan

    adequate commentaryappeared (Mayr, 1935), similar ideas had been derived independently by British

    ornithologists. Moffat (1903) had introduced the term territory, with EliotHoward (1920) supplying the first systematic overview of the role of territoryin bird life. Howards contribution proved to be decisive; in particular, revealingbehavioural variations that could be attributed to separate environmental adapta-tion, demonstrating the links between aggressive territorial display and courtship,

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    and recognizing that territorial spacing sets upper limits to avian population den-

    sities (Wilson,1975, 261)...After 1920, research on animal territoriality steadily proliferated.Although

    studies of bird territories continued to remain the focus for most ethologists,research on territoriality amongst mammals, fish,- reptiles, insects, even crust.aceans and molluscs gradually appeared (inter alia, Carpenter, 1934; Nice, 1941;Burt, 1943; Hediger, 1951; Lorenz, 1952; Hinde, 1956; 1970; Tinbergen, 1957;Etkin, 1967; Wilson, 1971; Thorpe, 1974; Barnett, 1979) and territoriality nowranks alongside altruism, dominance, and agression as one of the most intensivelystudied of all aspects of animal behaviour. Sufficient is known to show that it is

    encountered in all major vertebrate and several major invertebrate phyla. More-

    over, cross-species comparisons reveal numerous similarities in behaviour patterns,with the main manifestations being establishment of territories and maintenanceof personal space.

    The establishment of territories by solitary animals or groups of animals actingjointly, whether permanent or temporary, provides many species with an efficient

    means to fulfil their basic needs for food, security, and reproduction. The regula-tion of population density implicit in territorial dispersal can safeguard food

    supplies (Wynne-Edwards, 1962). Security is aided by possessing a safe refuge andbecause dispersion effectively makes it harder for predators to locate individualmembers of the species. Breeding opportunities can also depend upon possessionof territory (e.g. Watson and Moss, 1971, 96). Territorial rivalries are normallyconfined to other members of the same species, although there are instances of

    competition between closely related species (e.g. Orians andWillson, 1964). Boun-daries will be marked in a manner that rivals will recognize, and transgression willbe resisted (usually by means of ritualized aggression that obviates the need for

    physical combat). The actual size of territories would vary with the requirementsof the particular species, but may also reflect population density. Huxley (1934),for instance, likened territory to an elastic disc: expanding at times of low den-

    sity, contracting when population densities increased.The general preoccupation with ornithology, however, tends to have masked

    the wide diversity of animal territories, for there are considerable differencesbetween avian and other forms of animal territoriality. The songbird, for example,is able to maintain a sharply delimited territory since it can respond to any in-cursions by rivals by virtue of being able to survey its entire territory from a highperching point. By contrast, terrestial mammals lack such surveillance opportuni-ties and often have overlapping territories. For most mammals, the real territory

    is the network of paths and places to visit and use and not an undifferentiatedarea inside a fixed boundary (Leyhausen, 1971, 26). Mammalian territories there-fore may overlap, but this need not cause conflict for territoriality has temporalas well as spatial dimensions. Patrolling boundaries varies with the diurnal andseasonal activity patterns of the species, and it is possible that animals technicallyin dispute will never meet.Alternatively if conflict did arise, the losing party couldretain a sense of possessing territory by altering its daily timetable so that the

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    animals did not confront one another in future (e.g. Leyhausen, 1965). In addition,a mammals attachment to different parts of its territory can vary. Hunting animals,for instance, may habitually patrol a large area (range) over which they exercise a

    territorial claim, but have a smaller region (core area) within it to which they have

    greater attachments: an area which contains their home and resting places. In

    general, the vehemency of the animals defensive behaviour increases in direct

    proportion to proximity to the heart of its territory. Unless extremely ill-matchedor sick, the defending animal should be invincible by rivals when at the centre ofits territory.

    So far we have emphasized defence and aggressive display, but there are more

    aspects to territoriality than just supplying a framework for keeping potentialcombatants apart. Once territories are established, they are rarely seriously challen-

    ged. Looked at another way, territoriality is a cornerstone of stable social organi-zation. Territories provide a concrete expression of the species dominance hier-

    archy (see Esser, 1971, 1-11I) and serve to regulate and channel animal behaviour.

    They supply frameworks within which things are done and, for social groups of

    animals, have the effect of keeping individual members within communicationdistance of one another so that food and danger can be signalled (Hediger, 1961).

    Personal space, the other major manifestation of territoriality, is an essentialelement in the internal dynamics of group territories. Many animals that live

    together in groups avoid physical contact with one another. In doing so, theyobserve the conventions of personal space, which may be likened to an invisiblebubble of protected space surrounding the individual animal into which incur-sion is not permitted. Its size varies from species to species, and within speciesaccording to seasonal or other rhythms and in line with the groups dominance

    hierarchy.A dominant animal is able to retain more free space for itself thanothers of the same group, and thus space may be interpreted as a measure ofstatus within that group (Leyhausen, 1971, 23). Yet while it is dynamic spacethat moves as the animal moves, the limits of personal space are clear wheneveranimals interact. It materially assists preservation of the social harmony of groupterritories.

    One final point: the overwhelming consensus is that territoriality is an innatefeature of animal behaviour rooted in basic, physiological needs (Thorpe, 1979).Current behavioural patterns bear the impress of successful environmental adapta-tion over the aeons of evolutionary time. There is little evidence that learning playsany part in shaping the basic manifestations ofanimal territoriality.

    II Human territoriality,

    Parallel can be found readily in human behaviour. Individuals and groups dostrive to establish and maintain territories to which access is restricted; the con-

    ventions of personal space are observed during social interaction. The questionthat has to be resolved is what significance to attach to these similarities.

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    As has been discussed at length elsewhere (Gold, 1980, 83-86), there are twoschools of thought on this matter. The first, proposed by instinct theorists (e.g.

    Ardrey, 1966; 1970; Lorenz, 1966; Morris, 1967; Berghe, 1975; Maier, 1975),considers that human and animal territoriality are homologous. Man is viewed as

    being biologically predisposed towards territoriality: a predisposition that is in.stinctive and variously seen as a basis for social stability, a means for channellingaggression, and an effective mechanism for resource allocation. The alternativeschool of thought maintains that human and animal territoriality are no morethan analogous (e.g. Roos, 1968; Callan, 1970;Alland, 1972; Ittelson et al., 1974,142-47; Nelson, 1974). Whatever similarities are found in patterns of territorialbehaviour, the underlying processes are regarded as being different.Although not

    ignoring mans phylogenesis, it is argued that territoriality represents a culturallyderived and transmitted answer to particular human problems, not the blind opera.tion of instinct. Its frequent occurrence shows that it serves genuine needs, butthese needs are wider than those of animals. Whereas animal territoriality is rootedin physiological needs connected with survival, human territoriality may also em-brace


    for, say, identity, status, recognition by others, andachieve-

    ment of self-image.At the same time, it must be stressed that territoriality doesnot emanate from mere whim, nor is it subject to rapid change. Its rules, mechan-

    isms, and symbols are developed gradually over time and are passed from one

    generation to the next by the essentially conservative process of socialization.

    Representing as they do the two poles of the nature-nurture controversy,perhaps the oldest and least conclusive debate in the history of the behavioural

    sciences, any judgement upon the validity of these standpoints must be cautious.Given that learning begins at birth, even arguably in utero (Spelt, 1948), it isdifficult to show conclusively that behaviour is instinctive rather than being learnedin early childhood. Moreover, culture itself evolves, has adaptive significance

    (Barkow, 1978, 15), and is inextricably interwoven with the genetic heritage.Nevertheless, the evidence strongly suggests that territoriality is primarily

    learned and therefore best regarded as an analogy when applied to human beings.In the first place, the relevant instinct theories have been heavily criticized (e.g.Callan, 1970; Eisenberg, 1972). Second, there is little to support the contentionthat contemporary human society simply perpetuates the behaviour patterns ofatavistic groups. Third, human territoriality is complicated by the existence of

    property laws.Animals may defend territory, but there is no reason to suggestthat they view it as their own property, certainly not in the sense that it can be

    passed on to others of their species. By contrast, ownership for human beings con-fers an abstract


    possessionthat need not even involve

    physical occupation.As property, territory may be sold, exchanged, or otherwise disposed of as theowner wishes. Lastly, to assert that animal and human territoriality are homologousis to ignore the characteristics that set mankind apart (Ittelson et al., 1974, 143).Mans powers of invention, his forward-looking imagination (Bronowski, 1973,54), and the general development of culture have supplied human society with

    powers of adaptation that are denied to animals. Failure to recognize this can

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    only lead to the territorial illusion, in which human attributes and behaviours

    are ruthlessly oversimplified in order to fit frameworks best reserved for animals

    (Rieser, 1973).Before examining applications of this analogy, some initial matters need to be

    clarified. Territoriality is taken here to refer to any form of behaviour displayedby individuals and groups seeking to establish, maintain, or defend specific bounded

    portions of space, and is regarded as a fundamental expression of social organi-zation, not its antithesis (Greenbie, 1975, 75). It involves claiming space by per-sonalizing or marking it in a manner that communicates ownership to other people.This is normally accomplished by means of symbolic barriers, which will be recog-nized by other members of the same culture even if they may be completelyunobtrusive to people of different cultures. Territoriality may be frequently aflexible behaviour that is exercised only occasionally or at particular times, but it

    can, and does, serve deep-rooted social and physical needs. In this respect, it is

    worth repeating Edneys (1976, 43) conclusion that:.


    primefunction of territoriality is


    thingthat makes its true and most

    useful nature so elusive: to provide sufficient organization, structure and predictabilityto be allowed to fade into a reliable background which the occupant does not have toconcern himself with, but which is crucial for the subsequent development of moreadvanced behaviours and adaptive efforts.

    Various classifications of human territories have been attempted, the sheer

    variety of which perhaps indicates the diversity and complexity of the subjectmatter. One common theme has been to classify territories according to the typeof occupancy and degree of control exercised (Brower, 1965; 1980;Altman,

    1975). For example,Altman (1975) graded territories on the basis of their cen-

    trality to the everyday life of the person or group concerned, pervasiveness, tem-

    poral duration, and personal involvement. Using these criteria,Altman disting-uished primary, secondary, and public territories. Primary territories are ownedand used exclusively by individuals and groups, are accepted as such by other

    people, are controlled relatively permanently, and are central to the everydaylife of their occupants. By contrast, public territories are transitory and may beused by anyone so long as they conform to the normal rules of social behaviour.Such territories are not owned, but may be claimed by occupancy for short periodsof time. Secondary territories, the intermediate category, are less closely identifiedwith specific individuals and are less exclusive than primary territories, but lackthe free availability and access of public territories. The semi-public character of

    secondary territories can create problems because, as will be seen, the rules .

    surrounding their use are unclear and hence are susceptible to undesired encroach-ments.

    Another form of taxonomy, and one much favoured by geographers, is thatof an egocentric hierarchy of bounded spaces (inter alia, Stea, 1965; Lyman and

    . Scott, 1967; Goffman, 1971; Goodey, 1971; Soja, 1971; Porteous, 1977). Ter-

    minologies vary, but generally a loose inverse relationship is postulated between

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    for land and resources. On the one hand, there are societies in which territorial-

    ity appears to have negligible importance. With regard to the Hazda people of

    Tanzania, for example, Woodburn (1968, 50) reported that:

    The Eastern Hazda assert no rights over land and its ungarneredresourses.Any indi-vidual may live wherever he likes and may. hunt animals, collect roots, berries, and honey

    and draw water anywhere in Hazda country without any sort of restriction. Not onlydo the Hazda not parcel out their land and its resources among themselves, they donot even seek to restrict the use.of the land they occupy to members of their own tribe.

    On the other hand, there are groups with fierce attachment to their land: an attach-

    ment which can incorporate spiritual values. Examples may be found from both

    sedentary (e.g. Gamst, 1969; Fakhouri, 1972; Berg, 1975) and non-sedentary(e.g. Marx, 1967; Jones, 1971) societies. Between these two ends of the spectrumare to be found many cases of definite, but flexible, territoriality.A well-docu-

    mented example may be found in the work of Bohannan (1954; 1964) on theTiv people of the Benue valley in Nigeria. The entire population of over 800 000

    trace their descent froma

    single ancestor, Tiv, who had moved to the area somefourteen to seventeen generations previously. This ancestral link gave that regiongreat meaning for the people, yet their attachment was not tied to any specificplace. Rather, the Tiv viewed their land as an extension of their geneology, con-

    ceiving of social organization in terms

    of pure space, (which) is only incidentally linked with the physical environment by .

    vicissitudes of farming or other land uses for very short periods of time. The Tiv of centralNigeria are an example of a farming people who ... see geography in the same imageas they see social organization. The idiom of descent and geneology provides not onlythe basis for lineage grouping, but also of territorial grouping. Every minimal lineageis associated with a territory (Bohannan, 1964, 177).

    These minimal lineages comprised some 200-300 males, derived from a common

    ancestor, and their families. The resulting organization of space resembled topo-logical principles, wherein the juxtaposition of.the territories of the various line-

    age groups did not change but their location could alter, as would occur during

    crop rotation.At any one-time, the geographical position of territories followedthe geneological division of the tribe into lineages. The rapid growth of the popu-lation in the present century had created the need for more land, but enlargementwas carried out within the framework of a constantly expanding segmentary or-

    ganization rather than territorial conquest (Bonte, 1979). Individuals as suchdid not own the land as in western systems of property rights, but instead exer-cised rights over the land only while they were actually farming it. These rightswould be relinquished when they moved on.

    The clearest impression of the role of territoriality, however, emerges fromliterature on hunter-gatherer societies, material which as such merits detailed

    attention.Although now reduced to remnant groups occupying remote and mar-

    ginal regions - desert-fringe, tundra, rain forest, isolated highlands, coasts and

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    islands - hunter-gatherers are of more than just peripheral interest in the study ofhuman behaviour. They effectively represent the living past, perpetuating a primi-tive economy that was universal before the spread of agriculture. Understandingof their way of life is held to supply clues to the general development of human

    society, although it would be misleading to infer that the behaviour patterns of

    hunter-gatherers have been unchanging (King, 1976; Schrire, 1980, 10). Terri.

    toriality has long been considered integral to that way of life. Possessing onlyrudimentary technology, hunter-gatherers depend heavily upon the resourcesof their environment. The idea that they would disperse territorially to secure

    subsistence resources is intuitively plausible, but the matter is less simple thansome early researchers supposed.

    This point can be illustrated from studies ofAustralian aboriginal tribes. The

    aboriginal concept of territory stems from mythology, with tribes identifyingthemselves with particular mythological beings who acted upon the land duringa distant creation period (the dream time), and enriched it both ritually and

    economically. Children are taught the lore and traditions of the clan with meticu-lous

    precision,often as

    partof initiation

    rites, learningto


    with the clans totem and the lands associated with it. This therefore maintains

    the bond between the people and their land from generation to generation. Theboundaries are well known and encompass exclusive territories, but it should be

    stressed that these are associated with ritual: boundaries for economic purposes

    might be far less distinct (Peterson, 1972; 1976; Doolan, 1979). This dichotomywas not always appreciated.

    In an important early paper, Radcliffe-Brown (1930) argued that some formof territorial band was the optimum pattern of social organization for the abori-

    gines given the conditions of their environment - a view that echoed that of the

    demographer Carr-Saunders (1922). The key landowning unit throughout abori-

    ginal Australia was termed the horde, and consisted of a patrilaterally relatedgroup of males who lived and worked within their totemic estate. Each such patri-clan was assumed to exert exclusive control over its lands and the resources found


    This idea still has adherents (Stanner, 1965; Birdsell, 1970), but has come under

    mounting attack. Hiatt (1962; 1966), for instance, failed to find a single indis-

    putable example of Radcliffe-Browns horde, a failure that cannot be explainedadequately by arguing that contact with western influences had atrophied suchgroups. Indeed it is plain that the notion of the horde rests on misconceptions.Local aboriginal bands were composed of members of several particlans who

    exploited several territories, their own and those of certain of their allies. Whatseems to have arisen is a confusion between ritual ownership of the land and theconduct of everyday life.As Godelier (1979, 145) noted:

    several kinship groups came together for the purpose of exploiting the resources of severalterritories. Descent relations thus may have served as a basis for abstract and juridicalappropriation of resources from generation to generation, whereas relations of alliancemay have served as a basis for concrete appropriation and for cooperation in everyday,non-ceremonial life.

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    Four broad conclusions can be drawn from these findings and from those of

    germane studies of hunter-gatherer societies elsewhere (inter alia, Knight, 1965;Lee and DeVore, 1968; 1976; Bishop, 1970; Gramly, 1977; Barnard, 1979; Peter-

    son, 1979). First, it is essential to appraise the exact resource endowment available

    to any given group of hunter-gatherers. Those writers who believed that territor-

    iality is the organizing principle for hunter-gatherers (e.g. Radcliffe-Brawn, 1930;Steward, 1936; Service, 1962; Williams, 1974) have generally underestimated the

    extent to which resource density and predictability vary spatially. Territorialityrepresents a better adaptive response to some resource endowments than others.

    As Dyson-Hudson and Smith (1978, 26) have pointed out, the likelihood of terri-

    toriality occurring is greater when resources are sufficiently abundant and pre-dictable in space and time than when they are not. In other words, holding territorymakes sense only if it gives groups reliable access to critical resources.

    Second, full account must be taken of cultural adaptation. Territoriality re-

    presents only one of several possible responses to the challenges of a hard and

    capricious environment. Groups, for example, may ally themselves and jointly

    exploit the resources of their territories rather than maintain exclusiveness. Durham(1976, 392) indicated that unpredictability of hunting yields led the !Kung bush-men to share their better territories in order to circumvent local failures.As longas one years good territory was also sometimes bad, sharing between groups wasnot purely altruistic.Alternatively, rivalries might be channelled into things otherthan land, such as animals, materials, or even mates.A further possibility is that

    groups may use social controls to achieve the function of territorial defence.

    Peterson (1975, 62) showed how aborigines inAmhem Land made acceptanceinto the local group of prerequisite for using the resources in its territory; de-

    fending the boundaries of the group rather than the territory itself. Strangerswould be received only if they recognized the accepted practice of greetings cere-

    monies, themselves regulated by elaborate and formal codes of behaviour, which

    effectively show both peaceful intentions and recognition of territorial owner-

    ship. Similar strategies of retaining territory but allowing movement betweensocial groups have also been observed elsewhere (e.g. Tumbull, 1968; Stauder,1971; Barnard, 1979).

    Third, some controversies about territoriality are more apparent than real.It was noted earlier that the debate about the horde involved confusion between

    abstract rights to territory and the concrete principles that govern conduct of

    everyday life.Another case in point is the confusion between intra and inter-

    group territoriality. To take an example, opinions vary as to whether the Kalaharibushmen maintain territories

    (Heinz, 1972)or whether


    non-territorial(Lee, 1976). Despite the apparent polarity these views can be reconciled, fortheir authors were essentially writing about different things: the former about

    inter-group relations and the latter about intra-group relations within a giventerritory (Godelier, 1979, 147).

    Finally, the combative aspect of territoriality may be placed in its true pro-portion.As suggested above, perhaps the most important facet of territoriality

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    is that it can create a stable and unobtrusive framework for the orderly conduct of

    everyday life. Furthermore, the defensive element gives rise to more varied bern.

    viours than is sometimes conceded (Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 1974). Some groups do aggre.ssively maintain sharply defined territories, but others are content with looselydefined territories, or with territories that have strongly defended centres (often

    Icontaining totemic sites) and weakly defended peripheries that trail off into no-

    B&dquo;mans-land. Certainly active patrolling of boundaries need not be involved.. Peter- Ison (1975, 62) illustrated this point by showing that even though the territories (&dquo;of theAranda tribe were relatively compact, a band of forty people might haveto defend a perimeter of seventy or more miles. Constant watch against negligible Ithreat is not only unrewarding, it is impossible in face of the need to collect food.

    .In those cases where territorial defence is required, it can be done in ways otherthan direct hostilities, for example, sanctions of public opinion, invocation of Bsupernatural intervention, or litigation (Brookfield and Brown, 1963; Bishop,1970). Thus even for so-called primitive societies, the potential range of response considerable.

    IV Urban territoriality . .1.After a lengthy period in which urban studies have been strongly influenced by B. what Lenz-Romeiss (1973, 1) has termed the bias in favour of mobility, interest-in localism (Smith, 1980, 364-65) has revived, with fuller appreciation of the Brole of place attachments in the lives of most city-dwellers. This shift in thought,

    {coupled with growing interest in territorial as well as structural social groupings, 1has stimulated much of the research discussed in this section. The first two parts

    .view the dwelling and neighbourhood as primary territories (see above) - placesof central importance in the lives of urban residents over which they exercise

    [exclusive control and to which they feel strong attachment. The final part dealsLswith defensible space and, in doing so, explores the supposed consequences when Iopportunities for exercising territorial control are denied.1 The swelling



    Stemming from a wide span of the humanities and social sciences, literature on

    the dwelling as territory provides a rich, if sometimes speculative, body of material

    (e.g. Raglan, 1964; Rapoport, 1969; 1977; Moles and Rohmer, 1972; Buscaglia,1974; King, 1974; Hayward, 1975; Tuan, 1975; Crowhurst-Lennard and Lennard,

    1977; Jackson, 1977; Marc, 1977). Broadly speaking, four territorial functionscan be discerned.

    First, the dwelling supplies a retreat that meets our basic needs for shelter and

    security. While physical security may be paramount (e.g. Rainwater, 1966), psy-chic security (Porteous, 1976, 383), the feeling of general well-being that possess-ion of this territory engenders, may be almost as important. Second, althoughcomplicated by the existence of property laws, the physical and social barriers

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    upon entry into the dwelling permit some measure of control to be imposed uponthe living environment. They enable residents to balance, in whatever mixturesuits them, their desires for stimulation and sociability against their needs for

    privacy and independence (Flaschsbart, 1969). Third, the dwelling can act as afixed point of reference in the individuals knowledge of urban space (Dovey,1978) and as a physical framework for the spatial and temporal organizationof domestic activities (e.g. see Scheflen, 1971). Finally, the dwelling is a micro-cosm that can be moulded and ordered to satisfy the need for self-expression.Certainly there appears to be a link between possession of a dwelling and personalidentity. This applies particularly in the early development of the child, for whom

    experience of the world is inseparable from the physical and social contexts inwhich it takes place. Indeed, Bachelard (1964, 8) speculated that the house itselfcould supply a framework for our memories in that:

    thanks to the house, a great many of our memories are housed, and if the house is a bit

    elaborate, if it has a cellar and a garret, nooks and corridors, our memories have refugesthat are all the more clearly delineated.

    Identity once developed may be bolstered and reinforced by being surrounded byknown and familiar things, which personalize the living space and perhaps conveyto the individual a sense of the continuity of the present with the past (Rapoport,1968, Lynch, 1972). Moreover, the dwelling may be used as a medium to commu-nicate that identity to the outside world (Cooper, 1974; Duncan and Duncan,1976). In particular, the exterior acts as a medium by which symbolic messagesmay be communicated, although interpretation of those symbols will dependupon the culture concerned (Rapoport, 1969; Wagner, 1972).

    The sheer richness of meaning that the dwelling encapsulates means, of course,that the above comments should be treated as exploratory insights that supply a

    starting point forour

    understandingof the territorial functions of

    the dwelling,not as invariable generalizations. Exceptions to the rule are not hard to find.For the elderly, or inform, or the mother with young children, the dwelling attimes can be more of a prison than a retreat or haven. For some non-westerncultures and even for certain groups in western cultures, more importance maybe attached to the locality-than the dwelling. For example, in a study of youthculture in an unspecified city of the northeastern USA, Whyte (1943, 255) re-

    ported that the dwelling played a smaller part in the lives of adolescent Italian- .American youths than did the meeting place and turf of the gang to which theybelonged. In addition, the analogy of territoriality is useful in the analysis of the

    dwelling only if it is realized that there is a reciprocal relationship between peopleand place. While it may be argued that it is not the physical framework but thesocial contexts connected with it that are significant (Sopher, 1979, 136), if peopleregularly interact with a place, the physical surroundings become inextricablylinked to this interaction.

    2 Tfie neighbourhood

    Research that applies the territorial analogy to the study of neighbourhood has

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    intellectual antecedents in the ecological and community study approaches. The

    ecological approach was instrumental in establishing an impression of the city asa mosaic of distinct subareas in which the urban population was segregated overnatural areas into natural groups (Zorbaugh, 1926, 192). It produced a largecorpus of material on the social characteristics and .structure of the urban popu.

    lation, concentrating especially upon the run-down areas of the inner city. How-

    ever, what began as an attempt to ground theory in empirical research:

    in time took its own refuge from the uncertainties of feldwork through minute reworkingof census statistics. Such studies, no matter how carefully conducted, seem sterile tothose who seek an understanding of the lives of the citys inhabitants. (Basham, 1978,13).

    The community study approach, itself partly a reaction to the abstract empiri-cism of later ecological research, spawned a distinguished set of participant ob-servation studies of small urban communities (inter alia, Whyte, 1943; Youngand Willmott, 1957; Kerr, 1958; Gans, 1962; Liebow, 1967; Hannerz, 1969;

    Patrick, 1973). With their focus on inner-city working-class districts, these studiesidentified the importance of social networks in the lives of residents and depictedfar more intricate social organization than had been suggested by the ecologists,but neglected the territorial basis of these communities. Furthermore, they em-

    phasized consensus and cooperation amongst urban communities, which overlooksthe fact that many groupings owe their solidarity to outside pressures as well ascommon residence.

    This conflict interpretation, in which neighbourhood collaboration and co-hesiveness are taken to arise largely from residents feeling threatened by a hostileenvironment (Gold, 1971; Boal, 1972), combined with growing interest in commu-

    nity relations to stimulate studies that

    explicitlyexamined territoriality in neigh-

    bourhood life. Suttles (1968) interpreted the underlying territorial attachmentsthat underpinned the social life of the heterogeneous minority groups living in the

    Addams area of Chicago. Boal (1969) studied the sharp cleavage between two

    adjacent and mutually hostile districts of Belfast, the staunchly Protestant wardof Shankill and the Catholic ward of Clonard. Ley (1974; see also Ley and Cy-briwsky, 1974) examined the significance of territoriality in the black Monroedistrict of Philadelphia. In each of these studies, residential segregation wasmatched by activity segregation to the extent that the main criterion in manymovement decisions appeared to be the desire to avoid hostile territory. In theabsence of major changes in external circumstances, such territorial hostilities

    are perpetuated through socialization. Children are taught to fear adjacent groupsand to avoid their territory at all costs.

    These studies have provided a valuable beginning, but in the absence of much

    subsequent consolidating research many commentators seem to have assumedthat territoriality must necessarily be associated with conflict situations (an ironicreversal of the focus of the community study approach), and with inner-citydistricts. This, of course, need not be the case. While it is still valid to study the

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    territoriality of deprived inner-city neighbourhoods, a better balance would beobtained if the analogy was applied more often to groups separated by linguisticconflict (e.g. Laponce, 1980) or by socioeconomic exclusiveness (e.g. Firey, 1947;Collison, 1963). It is just as possible to defend an area by restrictive covenant

    as it is through the efforts of delinquent gangs ... or by a forbidding reputation(Suttles, 1972, 21). Defence itself should be interpreted in the broadest sense.

    People may cluster together for physical security, but could also do so for avoid-

    ance, for preservation of culture or other shared values, or even for attack on the

    wider society (Boal, 1977). The relative roles of ethnic origin and socioeconomic.

    status in creating and enhancing territorial integrity should be more clearly identi-fied (e.g. Porter, 1965; Barth, 1969; Driedger, 1977; 1980; Driedger and Church,1974; Gans, 1979). Finally, more emphasis should be placed on the positive aspectsof the neighbourhood as territory: its role as a spatio-temporal framework in andfrom which activities are organized, as a source of identity and belonging (e.g.Skaburskis, 1974; Becker, 1977), as an important forum for the development andsocialization of children (Lynch, 1977; Ward, 1978), and as an entity which is

    becoming increasingly significant in the organization of local politics (e.g. seeGold and Burgess, 1981).

    3 Defensible space

    Perhaps the most incisive debate involving urban territoriality, and one which

    requires individual attention here, concerns defensible space, a concept derivedfrom the work of theAmerican architect Oscar Newman (1969; 1972). Buildingupon ideas suggested earlier by Jacobs (1961), Newman investigated the linksbetween building design and indices of social disorganization, particularly crimeand vandalism. Using statistics mainly from New York, he argued that abnormally

    high crime rates were associated with building design, singling out high-rise publichousing estates as being especially vulnerable. Newman suggested that the layoutand design of such buildings denied residents the opportunity to exercise terri-torial control over the area around their dwellings, a characteristic that was in-

    variably possible in traditional housing design. The high-rise estate contained largeareas within and around the buildings that were secondary territories, areas opento all but subject to the control of no specific resident. These spaces included

    stairways, lobbies, halls, elevators (lifts), and social areas: spaces where crimewas rife that were not overlooked from the dwelling units.

    On the basis of correlational data and unverified assumptions about causal

    relationships between physical design and crime, Newman proposed a variety of

    methods for alleviating crime. He argued that layout and design had to be changedto give residents opportunities to have defensible space - a residential environ-ment in which their latent territoriality and sense ofcommunity could be harnessedto bring about a safe and well-maintained living space. The suggested measuresincluded taking steps such as establishing real and symbolic barriers around dwelling


    units in order to create perceived territorial zones, increasing surveillance oppor-tunities over the semi-public interior spaces, adjusting design to reduce the apparent

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    stigma attached to the buildings status as public housing, and locating housingprojects in sympathetic areas.

    Newmans work aroused considerable interest. Its powerful and unequivocalmessage that denial of territoriality created severe social problems reached anaudience well beyond the bounds of the academic and design professions. If thenotion of ~defensible

    spaceis correct, and there has been a

    widespread tendencyamong those unconnected with primary research in this matter to assume thatthis is the case, then Newmans findings would be of the utmost significance in

    understanding life in a modern city. Territoriality per se would immediately takethe role of a diagnostic variable in urban crime, and perhaps also in other social

    pathologies. The evidence for the territoriality-crime nexus, however, is meagre.Empirical testing in other areas has provided scant support for Newmans argu-ments (e.g. Becker, 1975; Baldwin and Bottoms, 1976; Hunter, 1978; Wilson,1978). Substantial criticisms have been directed against the very use of territor-

    iality in this context, at the severe limitations and deficiencies of Newmans sta-

    tistical analyses, at the internal contradictions in his crime prevention suggestions,

    and at his neglect of social variables (Hillier, 1973; Mawby, 1977; Mayhew, 1979;see also Gold, 1979, 21-24).

    The omission of social variables is particularly important. Newman singledout design factors and sought to infer causal relationships from them. While oneshould not underestimate the very real contribution that Newman made by fo-

    cusing attention and concern on this relationship, this strategy effectively ignoredthe interplay of physical and social variables and led to unbalanced theory. Thisis a point that Newman himself has now largely accepted, modifying his ideasto give weight to social factors and agreeing that different types of housing varyin suitability for different sections of the population, even to the extent of re-

    deeming high-rise apartments as safe and suitable living environments for some

    groups in the community (Newman, 1975). Thus, although the criticisms andmodifications remain less well known than the original thesis, there are distinct

    signs that progress is being made towards placing territoriality in its true perspec-tive alongside other key variables.

    V Summary and conclusion

    This paper has aimed to review and evaluate for the geographer current researchthat has. been inspired by, or can be related to, the ethological view of territoria-

    lity. The first section examined research on animal territoriality, outlining itsbasic findings on the form and function of animal territories, and arguing that theinnate patterns of territorial behaviour should not be seen as something purelyanti-social, but rather as an important element in social organization. The nextsection indicated that parallels in human behaviour are best treated as being ana-

    logous not homologous, and mapped out the approach adopted in this papertowards territoriality. The ensuing sections covered a wide range of material, from

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    the two opposite ends of the spectrum of economic development, dealing respec-tively with preindustrial and urban societies.

    The sheer range of this material itself well illustrates the value of territorialityas a broad and flexible framework by which the diverse findings of a large corpusof multidisciplinary research can be synthesized and integrated- Certainly it is

    research from which geographers have much to gain and to which they have muchto contribute, given the focus on such issues as attachment to place, valued en-

    vironments, the role of space in social organization, and territories as frameworks .

    for activity patterns.At the same time, it is worth recalling the various qualifi-cations and reservations that have been expressed in the course of this review.The literature contains many speculative inferences which the unwary may treatas established fact. If progress is to be made, there will have to be a clearer iden-

    tification of underlying assumptions, more effort to establish research priorities,and greater recognition that territoriality needs to be fitted alongside the variousother concepts that relate to mans use of space (e.g. seeAltman, 1975; Edney,1977).Above all, it will be necessary to develop more sophisticated notions of

    man-environment relations than have characterized research to date. Only bydoing so will it be possible to make proper use of the territorial analogy.

    Geography Section, Oxford Polytechnic, UK .


    I am grateful to Martin Haigh, Rende Hirschon, andAlan Jenkins for useful dis-cussions while preparing this paper.

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