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The surveillance zone as meaningful space for the aged

The Gerontologist

Author: Rowles, G. D.
Type: Journal Article
Year: 1981


The surveillance zone, the space which people can see from their homes, often provides an important source of ongoing environmental participation and a sense of identity for old people. The significance of the surveillance zone was explored in a 3-year study of elderly persons living in a small Appalachian community. The study methodology involved interviews, participant observation, mapping of the zones, and photography. Surveillance zones of the subjects ranged from an entire valley to a few adjacent houses. Much time was spent watching -- sometimes for a practical purpose, sometimes to monitor the activities of others. Many subjects deliberately arranged their furniture for ease in watching out their windows. Another important use of the surveillance zone was being watched; the continual visual contact between the old person and neighbors facilitated the development of practical and social support. The developmental significance of surveillance zones was suggested by the fact that they are most important in childhood and old age, periods when the home is the most salient arena. The importance of surveillance space has ramifications for the location, orientation, and design of new housing for the elderly, and for the content and landscaping of space within the surveillance zone.

Further Details

Full Title: The Gerontologist
Pages: 304-311
Volume: 21
Issue: 3
Accession Number: September, 2011
Notes: Print discarded
Electronic Resource Number: 10.1093/geront/21.3.304
Research Notes: Electronic copy added 30/08/2013
Keywords: olderhousing improvementdesign
Reads: 217