A home is a place of anchor both physically and psychologically for us as individuals. It is a designation – home is something which we call home. It has a profound influence on our identity and sense of well-being. It is linked to the notion of dwelling – which according to Susan Saegert is the “physical, social, and psychological transactions by which a person maintains his or her own life, joins that life with others, creates new lives and social categories, and gives meaning to the process, thus gaining a sense of identity and place in the world.” Home is however a more elusive concept. It is relative in the sense that the word can be used to designate not the place of dwelling but a place where we are rooted, a place we identify as our origin, our base, a place where we rest and find refuge from the outside world. It has deep psychological significance; we invest in our homes the value of affect through the passing of time during which emotional ties are established, habits formed and identity shaped.

The house is the physical embodiment of home, the structure in which we house our worldly possessions, the space which we occupy and are able to control, modify, and which we use to express ourselves and allow our personality to spill out to the surrounding environment.

The content that the notion of “home” carries and the socially accepted housing norms and standards of course differ widely across culture. In the modern or “westernized” world, most people live in homes situate in either a single- or multi-storey house which is detached or semi-detached, with or without garden, or in apartments which form part of a building. In each house or apartment there would at least be a kitchen and a toilet with bath or shower facilities. Such constitutes the minimum “modern standard” of respectable housing and allows one to carry out all biological functions within the confines of one’s own home. Apart from such minimum standards, housing across the modern world varies, as are people’s preferences and notion of what a house or apartment should be like. These reflect deep-seated differences in culture and identity, including familial relationship and power relations within a family, gender stereotypes, perceptions of and relationship with nature or the outside world, ideas about personal space and privacy, attitudes towards life and habits such as eating, sleeping etc.

Recommended Citation

WONG, Man-wah Debra (2013). The commoditized house and home : a short study of Hong Kong housing. Cultural Studies@Lingnan, 35. Retrieved from http://commons.ln.edu.hk/mcsln/vol35/iss1/2/