University of Leicester
2016HarradFMPhil.pdf (1.26 MB)

The social ecology of the Public House

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posted on 2016-09-09, 11:04 authored by Fawn Harrad
Despite holding an important place within British culture, the public house remains an under-researched space. Most academic research describes the social activities that occurs within the pub, yet seldom draws on theoretical conceptualisations or models of place from across the social sciences. This is surprising given the wealth of research on the ways in which places become meaningful to groups and individuals. Using semi-structured interviews and observations within six public houses, the current project attempted to understand how the pub serves as a social space within a local community. Drawing on concepts from within ecological psychology, the project sought to better understand the reciprocal relationship between the customer and the pub environment. The current study viewed pubs through the lens of ecological psychology to uncover the different affordances that the pub offers its customers, and how these affordances are in turn influenced by the customers own needs and experiences. Customers perceived the public house to be spatially complex. Rather than being a homogenous space, the pub was interpreted as a number of different nested zones. Customers’ also described the unique sociality that is produced and occurs in the pub and the role of history in their experience and evaluation of the public house. The study provided an opportunity to gain a more sophisticated understanding of the public house as a social space and to bring the public house into current debates within the social sciences. The project also highlights opportunities to explicitly draw on concepts from other disciplines such as social and ecological psychology.



Brown, Steven; Smith Maguire, Jennifer

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Management

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Masters

Qualification name

  • Mphil



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