Handbook of Quality of Life Research offers new perspectives on factors affecting quality of life

June 6, 2024

Contact: Jon Meerdink ([email protected])

ANN ARBOR — A new book from two ISR researchers examines how place and space interact with the complex topic of quality of life. 

This “Handbook of Quality of Life Research: Place and Space Perspectives” presents a broad set of case studies examining how place and space serve as critical factors in achieving a meaningful quality of life. Edited by Robert W. Marans and Noah J. Webster of the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research along with Robert J. Stimson of the Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia, the book covers environmental settings ranging from rural and urban areas to new towns, to homes and hospitals through a series of case studies and empirical investigations.

“This book is for students and scholars from a wide range of academic disciplines, including, but not limited to urban geography, social and cultural geography, sociology, and environmental psychology given its offering of critical methodological insight into the complex and elusive concept of quality of life,” said Webster.

Through its 26 chapters authored by more than 40 contributors from across the world, the book explores a wide variety of topics related to place and space, including their effects on aging populations. Based on previous works by Marans and inspired and informed in part by Angus Campbell’s notable work “The Quality of American Life: Perceptions, Evaluations and Satisfactions,” it brings important and current perspectives to the field of quality of life research. According to Marans, it could and perhaps should drive conversations among policy makers and those who can make key decisions about shaping the places and spaces with which the public interacts.

“There are different ways of conceptualizing quality of life, including the idea that place can contribute to one’s quality of life,” said Marans. “Architects and other people whose lives are wrapped around design understand this, and I used to talk to my architecture and planning  students about that perspective when I was teaching. But people who are not in the environmental design professions need to consider place and space as a contributing factor to one’s psychological well-being and happiness.”

Whoever it may reach, Webster argues that adding context and depth to the study of quality of life is important. 

“Quality of life is a term often used interchangeably with well-being. It is a broad concept, influenced by interrelated subjective and objective aspects about the individual as well as the economic, social, and physical environments in which the individual is embedded. As such, the multiple spatial contexts in which people live and spend time are an important part of and contributor to quality of life.”
“Handbook of Quality of Life Research: Place and Space Perspectives” is available now from Edward Elgar Publishing.

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