Terms such as ‘belonging’, ‘identity’, and ‘community’ are frequently used when discussing ideas about place, and the more elusive ‘sense of place’ or ‘spirit of place’. Exploring place has been a research focus in several disciplines, including anthropology, ecology, geography, psychology, sociology and (to a lesser extent) cultural and heritage studies.
Archives have the power to narrate the essential record of our national and local story and so to enable future generations to learn about their origns. History is constantly, but often unconsciously, at work underpinning the operation of our society and giving context and meaning to individual and community life. Without archives, we would have no comprehensible history and without history we would have no roots or clear future direction.

One of the key figures in shaping a modern educational movement to end the lonely, often desperate, isolation of Homo sapiens from other species was the American Joseph Wood Krutch (1893-1971). "We are all in this together," he concluded in 1949, not long after he finished writing a biography of Henry Thoreau. Once a rather melancholic humanist, Krutch now became a kind of pantheist or ethical mystic, caught up in the joy of belonging to "something greater than one's self."

In 1948, E. B. White wrote in a New Yorker column:

"Like radio, television hangs on the questionable theory that whatever happens anywhere should be sensed everywhere. If everyone is going to be able to see everything, in the long run all sights may lose whatever rarity value they once possessed, and it may well turn out that people, being able to see and hear practically everything, will be specially interested in almost nothing."

Geography as a distinct subject is concerned with how people conceptualize space and place and with the impact this has on self-identity, sense of belonging, and participation in society. A sense of belonging is a foundation for human growth. It is about values, beliefs, ways of living, identity and expression. As such, it is fundamental to everyone's living experience and the bedrock of quality of life. A sense of belonging is the feeling of being connected and accepted within one's family and community. It is therefore important in healthy human development and combating behaviour problems and depression In Britain today there is public debate suggesting that people are losing this essential sense of belonging - that globalization, for example, far from bringing people closer together, is actually moving them apart. We hear that neighbourhoods are becoming evermore impersonal and anonymous and that people who live there no longer have a sense of place. A feature of modernity that impinges on our concept of place, is the idea that society and economy are no longer organised around local relations.

The World Health Organization (WHO 1999:3) defines quality of life as

"an individual's perception of their position in life in the context of the culture and value systems in which they live and in relation to their goals, expectations, standards and concerns. It is a broad concept affected in a complex way by a person's physical health, psychological state, personal beliefs, social relationships and their relationship to salient features of their environment."

Three key themes emerge from the literature as being crucial in establishing a basis for a sense of place or place attachment. These are the built and natural environment, people networks, and the culture of place, which hinge on four different components of sense of community, including; membership, influence, integration, and shared emotional connection. The sense of belonging and sense of place are related through the type and the quality of local social bonds. Two socially deprived neighbourhoods with identical social profiles measured by traditional variables such as average income, educational level, unemployment, ethnicity, welfare benefits, etc. can be very different when it comes to the sense of belonging to the local community and its social networks.

Bourdieu's concept of habitus offers one way to theorise the sense of belonging to the group, the place, the country. Habitus is an ensemble of practices and dispositions - what you do and how you feel about it - whereby people are 'at one' with the environment or context in which they live. It refers to the network of understanding that is acquired, often early in life, which predisposes members of a society to interact in ways consistent with the specific societal norms of their group and consequently to feel at ease and to belong.