Landscape preference and everyday use of urban green space in the age of social media: a case study of Beijing
Item statusRestricted Access
Embargo end date19/06/2024
Burgeoning social media sites characterize a highly connected cyberspace, whereby personal expressions can be easily created in rich forms – image, text, video – and are visible to a broad range of audiences. Substantial studies illustrate the great potential of social media data to explore preferences for a place. It is especially valuable for Chinese cities because green space has been made central to top-down planning initiatives associated with place branding and envisioning a liveable urban life over the last decades. Given that extensive studies suggest a positive connection between well-being and exposure to nature, examining people’s preference for urban green space is crucial to understand the relationship between positive response and nature experience in cities. This thesis aims to investigate the questions of landscape preference in the context of social media, with Beijing’s parks as the study site. By exploring social media use and everyday practice related to green space, this thesis demonstrates the impact of place popularity on representations of urban green space and uncovers the dynamic reactions to natural environment as it integrates experiences, place practice and social media as a mediator in interacting with green spaces. Drawing on data from an online questionnaire survey, social media data mining, and records from fieldwork between 2020 to 2021, this thesis finds that: (1) the use of visual social media is positively associated with the use of urban green space and subjective well-being; (2) diversity of visual representations is influenced by place popularity, while the social group (resident vs. tourist) has no significant impact on visual representations of nature experience in urban parks; (3) daily practice is also involved in forming preference, but in an affordance-oriented fashion; it embodies a process of space production and gives value to the landscape as physical and social space. Building upon these findings, this thesis argues that the preference for natural environment is not a purely evolution-based inclination but rather a consensus between everyday living and biophilic mental image, taking the form of aesthetic appreciation.