Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

February 13, 2002

What makes a home? U of G study seeking answers, participants

What does it take to turn a new house into a home? University of Guelph doctoral student Sarah Allen hopes to find out with the help of some local families.

Allen, a PhD candidate in the Department of Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, is researching the relationships among place, space and home and wants to use families in the Guelph, Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge areas as research subjects. The project is being supervised by family relations professor Kerry Daly.

Allen is looking for couples who have moved to the area within the past two years and have no prior work or living experience in their new city. She is interested in speaking to couples who have at least one child under the age of five and have frequently moved within Canada. "Home is an integral part of family life, but it has not been well explored, especially the effect relocating has on how a couple defines and experiences home," Allen said.

Canadian society is increasingly mobile, with many families calling many places "home" over a short period of time, she said. In fact, over a five-year period, 48 per cent of the Canadian population changes residence at least once. "This results in questions of identity and belonging, and more needs to be understood about the processes involved in changing new spaces into meaningful places."

Couples will be interviewed separately for about an hour and a half, with times and places to be arranged at the participants' convenience. "I'm interested in what the couples have done to make themselves feel more at home, how they form attachments and establish an identity, and what obstacles they've encountered in that process,"Allen said. She will also explore whether there are gender differences in the ways couples negotiate and construct their new home environments.

For additional information or to participate in the study, contact Allen at (519) 824-4120, Ext. 2210, or

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs, 519-824-4120, Ext. 3338.

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