Sibylle ROTH and Andy SELTER

Institution: University Freiburg – Germany


Keywords: Place Making, Forest Usage/Perception, Walk along Interview, Wellbeing, Muße

The aim of this presentation is to introduce to the framework of place making of humans in forests through the lenses of the concept “Muße”. This concept is understood as a state that can be experienced in times of self-determination and self-regulation. Within this experience, individuals can follow their own interests with inner peace and without the pressure of time. All studies, dealing with the Muße state a strong affinity between spaces and the components being detached from daily routine, and its time restrictions as well as concentrativeness and awareness. Simultaneously studies which investigate the recreation use of forests consistently describe that people percept their visits of forests as immersion into another world and hence into a possible spaces for Muße. We start from the assumption that place making and the perception of Muße is a matter of individual frames and as well strongly influenced by social discourses providing the structure for individual frames. However, so far the literature dealing with Muße relevant issues in forests concentrated either on the discursive (macro) level or on the perceptions of individuals (micro level). To overcome the separated research tradition and better understand the interlinkage between the structure providing discourses and the individual perceptions, we developed a bridging theoretical framework. Once introduced to this framework we are sharing results and open for discussion on our empirical study. We aim to identify the aspects that constitute Muße spaces in forests.

The method used and material gained during an empirical phase in summer 2018 are 30 individual place perceptions of urban forest visitors represented through qualitative go-along interview sets. These interviews where transcribed and coded to gain a thematic overview. The results are showing which aspects determine the construction of individual Muße places in forests. The health research in forests identifies Muße as one of the basic factors of wellbeing and health.

The results show new insights into perceptions and experiences of individuals in forests. Through the studies been undertaken, we can identify causalities regarding to individuals appreciate the most during their forest visits and what they rather want to avoid. A significant amount of forest visitors of our study group seeks the forest for diverse concepts like solitude, peace and quiet, which will be explained in the presentation.

Presentation: link