Using photovoice and emotional maps to understand transitional urban neighborhoods

Mahbubur R. Meenar, Lynn A. Mandarano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The built environment influences our use and experience of place, as well as emotions and well-being. It is important to understand how people associate emotions with urban places, or create “subjective” urban experiences in order to regenerate neighborhoods that are sensitive to our mental and emotional health and well-being. In this study, we analyzed photovoice-generated photos (n = 265), focus group and interview transcripts, and emotional maps as part of a brownfield revitalization planning effort in a post-industrial transitional neighborhood of Philadelphia, USA. We coded 13 themes to represent places, spaces, or topics and documented eight primary emotions associated with the photos. Joy was the most mentioned emotion, although the total number of negative emotions (e.g., sadness, anger, and disgust) far exceeded positive ones. Emotional maps revealed positive and negative hotspots and displayed how a single location or topic could trigger multiple contrasting or complementary emotions. A major contribution of this study is its methodological novelty of creating emotional maps with data collected from photovoice, interviews, and focus groups. Another contribution is an innovative community engagement approach involving underrepresented stakeholders in the process of planning for the revitalization of a transitional neighborhood facing pressure from development and gentrification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number103353
StatePublished - Nov 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Urban Studies
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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