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The Hidden Dimension

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An examination of various cultural concepts of space and how differences among them affect modern society. Introducing the science of "proxemics," Hall demonstrates how man's use of space can affect personal business relations, cross-cultural exchanges, architecture, city planning, and urban renewal.

256 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1966

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About the author

Edward T. Hall

39 books146 followers
Born in Webster Groves, Missouri, Hall taught at the University of Denver, Colorado, Bennington College in Vermont, Harvard Business School, Illinois Institute of Technology, Northwestern University in Illinois and others. The foundation for his lifelong research on cultural perceptions of space was laid during World War II when he served in the U.S. Army in Europe and the Philippines.

From 1933 through 1937, Hall lived and worked with the Navajo and the Hopi on native American reservations in northwestern Arizona, the subject of his autobiographical West of the Thirties. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1942 and continued with field work and direct experience throughout Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. During the 1950s he worked for the United States State Department, at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), teaching inter-cultural communications skills to foreign service personnel, developed the concept of "High context culture" and "low context culture", and wrote several popular practical books on dealing with cross-cultural issues. He is considered a founding father of intercultural communication as an academic area of study.

Hall first created the concepts of proxemics, polychronic and monochronic time, high and low context culture. In his book, The Hidden Dimension, he describes the culturally specific temporal and spatial dimensions that surround each of us, such as the physical distances people keep each other in different contexts.

In The Silent Language (1959), Hall coined the term polychronic to describe the ability to attend to multiple events simultaneously, as opposed to "monochronic" individuals and cultures who tend to handle events sequentially.

In 1976, he released his third book, Beyond Culture, which is notable for having developed the idea of extension transference; that is, that humanity's rate of evolution has and does increase as a consequence of its creations, that we evolve as much through our "extensions" as through our biology. However, with extensions such as the wheel, cultural values, and warfare being technology based, they are capable of much faster adaptation than genetics.

Robert Shuter, a well-known intercultural and cross-cultural communication researcher, commented: "Edward Hall's research reflects the regimen and passion of an anthropologist: a deep regard for culture explored principally by descriptive, qualitative methods.... The challenge for intercultural communication... is to develop a research direction and teaching agenda that returns culture to preeminence and reflects the roots of the field as represented in Edward Hall's early research."

He died at his home in Santa Fe, New Mexico on July 20, 2009.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 117 reviews
Profile Image for Trevor.
1,293 reviews21.7k followers
June 19, 2021
There are a couple of things that happen when I read a book that is nearly as old as I am, but that brings up ideas that still seems astounding and revolutionary, but that I’ve never heard of before. The first is for me to think, well, maybe the ideas in this have been proven wrong. I mean, why else wouldn’t I have heard of them before? That still is a possibility, of course, although, now I’ve read two other books that reference this book, and who knows, maybe I’ve read lots of previous books too that referenced it and I just didn’t notice. I do this with people all the time, why not with books too?

The other thing that happens is that I get a bit annoyed that people haven’t made more use of the ideas here – at least, I haven’t noticed these ideas elsewhere – and I really ought to have because I do read books around themes where I might have thought the ideas in this ought to have been mentioned. You know, not only have I not noticed this book being mentioned, but I also haven’t noticed the ideas in this book being discussed either.

The hidden dimension in the title is human culture. Although, saying that is both a bit narrow and a bit too broad to for what is really being discussed here. ‘Culture’ is one of Raymond Williams’s ‘keywords’ – a title he used because he probably couldn’t convince his publishers to call them ‘bastard-words’. Whatever culture means when you first think of it, probably isn’t quite what is meant here.

The book starts off in just about the last way I would have expected it to. He starts by saying that Malthus was wrong in his theory of population, although, not in the way others have said he was wrong. You see, Malthus held that populations grow exponentially, while food supplies only grow linearly, and so it doesn’t take too long before populations outgrow their food supplies, and then populations tend to collapse. This book argues that populations collapse long before food runs out. That is, that even while there is more than enough food to go around, over population of most higher animals already starts to lead to a reduction in the amount of space between animals. and this means animals become so stressed they can’t sustain their normal practices. Animals are often highly territorial, and so population explosions lead to animal social chaos, or what you could call animal territorial anxiety, long before starvation kills them off. It is stress that kills them off, not starvation.

The argument then shifts to humans, who are, after all, basically just higher animals with, as we say in Australia, tickets on themselves (that is, high levels of self-opinion). So, when do the levels of proximity we share with other humans start to make us dysfunctional and unable to sustain social, emotional, sexual and other forms of healthy engagement with each other? The question is particularly interesting because our cities are becoming increasingly crowded and are likely to become more so.

This book was written at a time when modernist, post-war architecture for the poor involved building housing developments that were at least partially comparable to the cages that were built in zoos at the time. I kept thinking of this clip throughout this book. Although, it has been decades since I saw it, fortunately it is available on YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPe0d...

The bit of this I really liked was his experiments upon what you notice when you are at different distances from other people – you know, when is too close, too close? At what distance is a conversation comfortable and when does it start to become difficult to sustain without raising your voice? And when is the distance between you and the other person simply too great for you to have a conversation no matter now loudly you speak? What I particularly liked about this was the idea of smell being close enough to smell the other person and how we react differently to this level of closeness depending on our culture. Not just sight and sound, but touch and smell too.

Years ago someone told me the story of one of the Maori who signed the Treaty of Waitangi – that he said that negotiations would have gone much more smoothly if the British had first exchanged breath in a hongi (the pressing of nose and forehead together in an act of welcome). The bit of that which struck me was the notion of mixing breath. You know, you could have sex with someone in the West and not be permitted to smell their breath. Now that I think of it, that is close to the saddest things and something that speaks to so many levels of dysfunction in the West. The author makes a lot of the difference between Americans and Arabs on the basis of how prepared they are to breath on the another person. He says that for an Arab to smell someone’s breath is to really engage with them – remember those aerosols people used to use that pumped out peppermint mist? That we have moved to Mentos is hardly an advance.

A lot of the end of this book discusses the differences in the needs cultures have for space and the reactions cultures hold in relation to space. Germans need thick, strong doors and so they judge Americans on the basis of their flimsy, light ones. The Brits were all brought up in dormitories in boarding schools and so don’t need the same forms of privacy that the Americans do. And don’t get me started on the French. Many of the social problems that exist between the white working-class in America and Negros comes down to differences in their relationships to space. You know, a lot of this sounded like nonsense – but he does say that he based much of what he says here on his own observations and that more accurate analysis needs to be done.

To be honest, I don’t know what to make of a lot of this – I feel that there must have been more rigorous work done on this stuff, but, that said, I’ve just finished ‘The Eyes of the Skin’, and Pallasmaa makes the point that this book has been extensively read by architects but that its lessons have been mostly ignored. Hmm. All the same, I have a new word to be getting on with: ‘Proxemics’ – which is, in fact, a new field of study – I will have to see what has been added to this field since 1966 when this book was published.

If anyone knows of a book that discusses the gendering of space – I would really love to read it and will be forever in your debt.
Profile Image for لونا.
363 reviews470 followers
June 19, 2021
بعد ثلاث سنوات تقريبا من قراءة هذا الكتاب يجب أن أعترف أن إعادة تقييم هذا الكتاب "واجب" لابد منه

صحيح أنه كتاب ممل وفي بعض الصفحات يصل لقمة الملل ولكن كل يوم تحدث مواقف ومشاهد تستدعي هذا الكتاب فوراً .... تقريبا يوميا لسان حالي يقول "صدق البعد الخفي!"0


كل شخص موجود داخل "فقاعة" تصنع نوعاً من الحدود الخفية بينه وبين محيطه رغم كونها فقاعة غير مرئية لكنها مؤثره بقوة بعلاقة الفرد السوية بمحيطه .. .. فأي اختلال في هذه الحدود قد يؤثر سلباً على العلاقات، الاستقرار، التوازن النفسي للأفراد داخل المجتمع .. .. .. وهذه الفقاعة حددها الكاتب وأطلق عليها اسم البعد الخفي

البعد الخفي ليس مقدار ثابت و لكنه يتغير بتغير الظروف والأشخاص فمثلاً مدى البعد الخفي في مكان عام "منتزه مثلاً" بين العائلة يكون ضيق ولكن نلاحظ اتساعه بين شخص وناس غرباء لا إرادياً ( يختلف أكثر بين المجتمعات فنلاحظ المجتمعات العربية يكون واااااااسع مع الغرباء بعكس الغربية)0

مفهوم البعد الخفي يختلف من مجتمع لأخر و يحدد في الواقع طبيعة المجتمع، وإنشاء تصميم "فعَّال" لمدينة لا يعتمد فقط على التصميم العمراني و لكن أيضاً تعزيز هذا المفهوم

أنسب مثال يوضِّح المشاكل الناجمة عن اختلال مفهوم البعد الخفي هو "الازدحام" سواء كان ازدحام السكان في منطقة سكنية معينة أو ازدحام السير .. .. سنلاحظ فوراً كم التوتر والمشاكل التي ستنتج بين الأشخاص لأن كل شخص توجد لديه أبعاد خفية (مساحة شخصية) لو حصل فيها اختلال (انتهاك) ستظهر فوراً الاضطرابات .. .. ولهذا نلاحظ ازدياد نسبة الانحرافات، المشاكل والجرائم في المناطق المزدحمة سيئة التخطيط

الكتاب يحوي العديد من الأمثلة والتجارب العلمية (على الفئران) التي توضِّح أهمية هذا المفهوم .. .. شعرت بالملل في بعض الأجزاء ولكنها في المجمل تجربة جديدة، مفيدة، أضافت لي الكثير

Profile Image for Ricardo.
47 reviews1 follower
December 27, 2012
This is an extraordinary book, full of great insights despite having been first published fifty years ago. It's considered a foundational text in the anthropology of space, the study of "space" as a function of nurture rather than nature, and as something that varies from one culture to another. The author is specifically concerned with what he calls "proxemics," the perception of proximity. Different cultures have different, unstated, rules for what constitute intimate, personal, social, and public interpersonal spaces. Hall argues that these rules need to be taken into account if we are to communicate successfully across cultures. They also need to be taken into account in the design of our buildings and cities. Written at a time when the American city was in precipitous decline, the book calls for a sensitive consideration of the spatial cultures of ethnic minorities in the design of urban spaces that will allow their communities to flourish. The book is very accessible, free of jargon and full of illustrative examples. A great book for someone eager to think about how culture creates the spaces we inhabit, and that form an intimate if unrecognized part of who we are.
Profile Image for Meghan Fidler.
226 reviews20 followers
December 30, 2011
I saw this book referenced in many works on technology and social organization. Since I like to think about such things, and since I like to know the theoretical background of scholars who generate the sour metal taste of repugnance in my mind, I picked up this book.

My first impression was 'this could have been really cutting edge for the turn of the century.'

It was published in 1969.

The idea of the book, according the the author's preface, was to deal with the following: "Information overload increases the need for organizing frames of reference to integrate the mass of rapidly changing information. The Hidden Dimension attempts to provide such an organizing frame for space as a system of communication, and for the spatial aspects of architecture and city planning."

Drawing from the concept of linguistic relativity, Hall argues that 'culture' should be viewed as the same sort of extension as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, and thus “In light of what is known of ethnology, it may be profitable in the long run if man is viewed as an organism that has elaborated and specialized his extensions to such a degree that they have taken over, and are rapidly replacing, nature. In other words, man has created a new dimension, the cultural dimension, of which proxemics is only a part. The relationship between man and the cultural dimension is on in which both man and his environment participate in molding each other.”

This had potential, as Hall was willing to consider smell, distance, and other sensations in his analysis.

To demonstrate such sensations, however, the book falls into a number of broad generalization about animal behavior (random animals, from birds to lions, without any conscious effort to deal with lifespan and social structure differences in these species) to broad generalizations about human behavior (Grouping discussions of the "german," "english," and "French," can I SUPPOSE be SOMEHOW justified, but "JAPAN" and a generic "ARAB WORLD?") without any conscious effort to make a gesture towards gender, economic status, region, or age.

I should have known that this book would be disappointing since Marshall McLuhan and Walter Ong were the major celebrants of this work.

Profile Image for دينـا .
887 reviews111 followers
September 28, 2016
هذا كتاب رائع جدا ويستحق القراءه ، يتحدث عن فكرة مهمة جدا وهي الحيز بين البشر ..إلى اي مدى يحتل الحيز اهمية في حياتنا الاجتماعيه ؟ كيف يجعلنا اقرب او ابعد ؟ وكيف يكون سببا في الامراض الجسديه والاكتئاب ؟
دلل ادوارد هال بتجارب اجريت على الحيوانات وكانت مقنعة الى درجة كبيره ..
مهم جدا للمتخصصين في تخطيط المساكن والاماكن
Profile Image for aljouharah altheeyb.
286 reviews262 followers
April 7, 2012

كتاب مُذهل وممتع ويحملك إلى عالم آخر حيث تتعلم فيه عن مصطلح البروكسيميه وتأثيرها على الإنسان المُعاصر ..
بدأ هذ�� الكتاب بتبسيط هذا المصطلح وشرحة، وضع لنا فصلاً يتحدث عن الحيوانات وتأثير الإكتضاض والإزدحام فيها وأسباب النفوق الجماعي المُفاجئ رغم وفرة الغذاء في الطبيعة المُحيطة ثم قارنها مع الإنسان وتأثيراته�� في المُجتمع والمدينة ..

قارن الكتاب أيضاً بين شعوب عدة دول في حيزها المكاني الخاص وكيف تتعامل معه “ هذا الفصل بالذات كان مهماً جداً لكثيري السفر والتجوال او الدراسين في الخارج لأول مرة” حيث قد يطلع القارئ على أسباب سوء فهم قد تعود إلى سوء تواصل ناتج من إختلاف البيئة والتربية ..

كتاب مُذهل، رائع، لا أستطيع أن أكتفي منه وقد حزنت لإنهائه !
لن أتردد في قراءته مرة أخرى : )
Profile Image for Emily.
205 reviews8 followers
August 30, 2016
I guess it was alright. Had to read most of it for uni, again, only adding it cause it stopped me from reading better stuff haha.
Profile Image for Hussein Ebeid.
154 reviews49 followers
April 22, 2018
الثقافة الجمعية تعكس رؤيتنا للعالم و ترسم معالم فنه و عمارته

الدكتور عبدالوهاب المسيري طرح أشكالية التحيز في الفن و العمارة مما يجعل موضوع الكتاب و مضمونه مألوف للغاية و غير ممتع
Profile Image for Cipőfűző.
79 reviews12 followers
October 2, 2020
Edward T. Hall, amerikai antropológus megalkotta a proxemika nevű tudományágat, amely az ember (és állat) térhasználatát, a tér kitöltésének kérdését vizsgálja. Mindezt ma már az ember különböző kulturális mintái, szocializációja is meghatározza. Hall szerint a tér érzékelése és kitöltése a kommunikáció része. Az én interpretálásomban talán nem tűnik izgalmasnak, pedig az. Hall az állatok biológiai kódoltságából indul ki, és az alapvető távolságérzékelés illetve zsúfoltságérzet meghatározását vezeti le belőle, minthogy minden élőlénynél megfigyelhetőek bizonyos meghatározások, erre tesz rá az ember által megalkotott kultúra, a biológián túli térhasználat. Ez utóbbi a könyv legnagyobb részét lefedi, különböző érzékszervek által megtapasztalható szaglás, hallás, tapintás elsatnyulását taglalja, hogy végül rátérjen a szemre, a vizuális érzékelőre, ami a modern ember legtöbb információt bevételező szerve.
A globalizáció korának kellős közepén a kulturális eltérések persze egyre inkább összemosódnak. Például egy kinézetre ázsiai emberről nem tudhatod, hogy hol, hogyan szocializálódott. Emiatt és a világ különböző helyein átvett építészeti stílusok, városrendezési minták stb. miatt néhány passzusa a könyvnek mára biztosan meghaladott. De ezt maga a szerző is említi, hogy a világ változása folyamatban van.
Hall könyve mindenről szól: evolúció, civilizáció, nyelv, biológia, etológia, antropológia, minden a tér használatával összekapcsolva, vagy annak alárendelve.
Profile Image for منتظر عبد الدائم.
4 reviews4 followers
September 4, 2018
بالمعنى الاكثر ايجازا فأن رسالة هذا الكتاب هو انه بغض النظر عن الجهد الذي يبذله الانسان فمن المستحيل ان يفصل نفسه عن ثقافته الخاصة لانها تغلغلت ختى جذوره جهازه العصبي وحددت كيف يدرك العالم .
Profile Image for Aya Badr.
250 reviews8 followers
August 26, 2018
كتاب رائع جدا يتحدث عن موضوع مثير ولافت وفريد وهو البروكسيميكس ماهيتها واختلافاتها واثارها في الشعوب المختلفة ..موضوع شيق جداا...
Profile Image for Alejandra.
43 reviews2 followers
July 7, 2022
"Las personas habitan diferentes mundos sensorios".

Se me hizo muy interesante como estudia a profundidad la relación del hombre con el espacio y con el mismo hombre. El ejemplificar todo con estudios hechos en animales es muy 60s de su parte (y porque es un libro de etologia) pero entiendo el punto al que quiere llegar, sin embargo, justo en los animales no existe esta dimensión oculta, que es la cultura y es por eso que por naturaleza compartimos ciertos rasgos con los animales, pero al crear las "prolongaciones" creamos la dimensión oculta que es la misma que nos une y separa como sociedad.

Es cierto que todos vemos el mundo diferente, sin embargo, con las "gafas" de la dimensión oculta , esa perspectiva se ve alterada. Al final, en el mundo existen mil dimensiones ocultas que al buscar coexistir en el mismo mundo pueden ocasionar conflictos y el no ser conscientes de que existe esta barrera cultural los hace peor.

En general aprendí mucho leyendo el libro pero las conclusiones fueron la misma idea que a lo largo del libro menciona, además de que no hubo nada nuevo en cuanto a reflexión.
Profile Image for Bob Nichols.
889 reviews292 followers
December 22, 2017
Spatial relationships, Hall states, have a biological substrate. Space involves territoriality and all the values that go along with that. Referring to the studies of an animal psychologist, Hall writes that “Territoriality…insures the propagation of the species by regulating density. It provides a frame in which things are done—places to learn, places to play, safe places to hide. Thus it co-ordinates the activities of the group and holds the group together. It keeps animals within communication distance of each other, so that the presence of food or an enemy can be signaled. An animal with a territory of its own can develop an inventory of reflex responses to terrain features. When danger strikes, the animal on its home ground can take advantage of automatic responses rather than having to take time to think about where to hide.” In addition to protection of food supply, proper spacing “protects against over-exploitation of that part of the environment on which a species depends for its living.”

Hall then illustrates the centrality of the spacing dimension in the notion of flight distance in which “a wild animal will allow a man or other potential enemy to approach only up to a given distance before it flees.” Hall notes that “there are…other ways of coping with a predator, such as camouflage, protective armor or spines, or offensive odor. But,” he states, “flight is the basic mechanism of survival for mobile creatures.” With this statement, Hall is saying that fear is not just another “emotion.” If life is about seeking what one needs to survive and live well, then fear (ranging from a state of vigilance to freezing in place, to hiding, to flight) is its equal but opposite manifestation. It is the first line of defense against threats to survival and only when a critical separation point is breached (e.g., when cornered), does a fear-based flight response turn into aggression (fight). (1)

Hall refers to contact and non-contact species (those in physical contact with each other when at rest, versus those who need some separation--“an invisible bubble”--around them), to the need among dominant animals for greater spatial distance, to the regulation of intra-species aggression by spacing (not crowding); and, to a social distance that keeps species members in contact with each other (via sight, sound or smell). Then Hall moves to his bottom line by saying that crowding (violation of spatial separation) leads to stress, violence, reproductive maladies, and die offs.

Man is part of this biological substrate. (2) In his chapter, “Distance in Man,” Hall develops this universal biological dimension somewhat by breaking down spatial requirements down into intimate, personal, social and public distance dimensions and he comments that these break down, negatively, with increases in population and crowding. Yet, in his introductory chapter, Hall’s central theme is far more cultural than biological (3). Later in his book, Hall discusses the different cultural and artistic manifestations of spatial needs, but these examples, which seem more antidotal than what his science-sounding term “proxemics” would suggest, seem to be about cultural styles, not underlying biological form.

This distinction between biological and cultural effects becomes further blurred in his last chapter when Hall writes that his research is concerned more with “structure than content and more interested in the question of ‘How?’ than ‘Why?’” Here, structure means underlying cultural form, filled with specific cultural content, not biological needs (universal forms or structures) that then are molded by and expressed through culture. “The message of this book,” Hall writes, “is that no matter how hard man tries it is impossible for him to divest himself of his own culture, for it has penetrated to the roots of his nervous system and determines how he perceives the world…..Even when small fragments of culture are elevated to awareness, they are difficult to change, not only because they are so personally experienced but because people cannot act or interact at all in any meaningful way except through the medium of culture.” (4)

Well yes, it might be stated in response, but why does culture have such an impact and might this be about the tribalism that Darwin discussed and its overwhelmingly potent relationship to survival, including territoriality and the “space sensing and space setting” mechanisms that maintain proper spatial distances? And what happens when these needs are violated or, per his “The Silent Language” observation, when there’s a “failure to read adumbrations correctly?” This book would have benefited from drawing a deeper linkage between these universal biological factors and their particular cultural expressions involving space. The connection is fuzzy at best. Also, in doing so, Hall may also have picked up what is likely to be the wide individual variations in spatial requirements, independent of culture.

1. The critical distance for a lion tamer, Hall notes, can be “measured in centimeters.”

2. “This cursory review of the functions of territoriality should suffice to establish the fact that it is a basic behavioral system characteristic of living organisms including man.”

3. “In light of what is known of ethology, it may be profitable in the long run if man is viewed as an organism that has elaborated and specialized his extensions to such a degree that they have taken over, and are rapidly replacing, nature….[And] in creating this world he is actually determining what kind of an organism he will be.”

4. The same concept has a deep time as well as a cross-cultural application. For example, Hall writes that “The greatest criticism one can make of many attempts to interpret man’s past is that they project onto the visual world of the past the structure of the visual world of the present.” He uses paelolithic cave art as an example. That art was not art per se, Hall states. It’s more than likely that it was one of man’s first efforts to control the forces of nature…” his first step in gaining control” over the forces of nature.
Profile Image for غسّان خير الدين.
9 reviews6 followers
November 4, 2017
تعيش الكائنات وعلى رأسها الإنسان داخل أبعادٍ ثلاثة تكوّن المحيط المادي وتمكنها الحواس التي تملكها من التعرّف والتفاعل مع هذا المحيط للقيام بالأفعال المختلفة التي تنسج خيوط حياة كل منها , إن كل مجموعة من الكائنات تتفاعل مع المحيط بطريقة تلائم احتياجها وخصائصها وتشترك الكائنات جميعها ببعض طرق التعامل مع المحيط
إن الكتاب عبارة عن توصيف علمي لتلك العلاقة مرورا بالفئران والغزلان التي خضعت لتجارب بما يسمى علم الإيثولوجي للتعرف على سلوكها ضمن الفراغ والآثار السلبية للاكتظاظ العددي على مجتمعات الحيوانات وانتهاءا باستبصارات بما يتعلق بطرق تفاعل الإنسان مع الحيّز وتنوع طرق التفاعل تلك بين الشعوب والحضارات المختلفة و محاولة فهم آلية استخدامنا للحواس في إدراك الفراغ المحيط مع عقد مقارنات بين الشعوب المختلفة
إنّ الكتاب تجربة رائعة لكل مهتم بفهم آليات إدراك الإنسان للفراغ سواءا على الصعيد النفسي أو الاجتماعي يجعل القارئ يرى المحيط العمراني والعلاقات الإنسانيّة بعين جديدة لم يعتد عليها.
أعتقد أن الكتاب مضجر قليلاً و خصوصاُ في التجارب الأولى المتعلقة بعلم الإيثولوجي لكن بلا شك يعتبر ضرورة لكل مهتم بالتخطيط والعمراني وعلم الإنثروبولوجيا.
Profile Image for S..
564 reviews125 followers
April 10, 2023
Hall argues that our perception of space is not simply a matter of physical distance, but is also deeply influenced by cultural and social factors. He introduces the concept of "proxemics," the study of the ways in which people use space in their daily interactions, and argues that different cultures have different rules and expectations when it comes to personal space, touch, and eye contact.

Throughout the book, Hall draws on examples from a wide range of cultures, including those of the United States, Japan, and the Middle East. He explores the ways in which architecture, furniture, and other elements of our physical environment shape our behavior and attitudes, and argues that understanding these factors is essential to effective communication and cross-cultural understanding.
Profile Image for Shirin.
115 reviews5 followers
January 12, 2015
A core scientific reference guide studying the effect of proxemics on modes of behavior and communication in different cultures. While the author diligently compiled a detailed analysis comparing the European nations'- namely the British, German, French and Japanese- behaviors with the Americans in terms of space and time, he synopsized the study for the Arab nation. It would have been effective and valuable to sample some major countries from the Middle East & Africa, since they are ethnically as diverse as the French, English, German, Japanese etc.
Though a bit outdated, I would certainly recommend this book to architects, civil or space engineer experts.
Profile Image for Dana Esreb.
1 review
Want to read
April 10, 2013
In this article appeared in the book, there are misconceptions about Arab's behavior, but we agree with him on one point which is involvement. Arabs are more involved with each other unlike Westerners; as they socialize and interact on a daily basis. For example, it is rare to see an Arab sitting alone in a coffee-shop or a restaurant while Westerners don't mind it at all.
Profile Image for Sarah Ext.
55 reviews21 followers
February 12, 2018
باختصار شديد، قرأت هذا الكتاب 3 مرات، هو يضرب عرض الحائط كل ما نؤمن به كمسلمات ثقافية.. كتاب رائع جدا، لدرجة أنني لا أستطيع إعارته لأحد مخافةَ ألا أستردّه !
Profile Image for Kayla.
160 reviews3 followers
January 13, 2022
Although this book wasn't particularly mind-blowing because I had already learned many of the major concepts in anthropology courses I have taken, The Hidden Dimension is an interesting discussion of how cultural experiences and perceptions of space should be considered in architectural planning or in everyday interactions with others.

Since this book was first published over 50 years ago, I'm interested to see what observations have changed since then. Taking the original publication date into account was definitely important, and I found myself dismayed by the emphasis on gender roles, vague generalizations about cultural differences (though thankfully this came with somewhat of a disclaimer), and the assumption that all Americans are a dominant white middle class population (denying additional groups of people space in the identity of being U.S. 'American,' due to othering language). Moreover, although the several chapters that focused on studies with animals were somewhat interesting, I found the direct comparisons between them and human populations to be demeaning, as they did not account for the complex role that cultural differences play into city planning, population growth, and misunderstandings between groups of people, even if unintentional.
Profile Image for MM.
106 reviews2 followers
May 23, 2016
This is one of those books that was probably really ground breaking when it came out but now just kinda feels like, "Eh...". Edward Hall discusses "proxemics", or the (science?) of space (not outer space, just like, how we use space).

Before I proceed, let me just say that I hate the word "space". It reminds me of a rad leftist magazine at my alum mater, along with a host of other words like "intersectionality" and "oppression". All of which are fine but for some reason I just don't like hearing them. It makes me feel antsy, like I'm around people who will call me out for being problematic, even though they have the best of intentions. Anyway. So I hate the term "safe space".

Now, thanks to this book, I finally know who to blame for this vilified term. Edward Hall. Okay, so I don't have conclusive proof that the use of "space" in such a sort of psychophysical manner came from his work, but I'm just gonna assume it did. THANKS A LOT.

Anyway, so basically, Hall's thesis is that humans are animals and have territoriality and stuff, and a "sink" which is basically too many people in one place that kills off animals (and presumably, humans), and that responding to space is in our chemico-biological nature, and all of this differs between cultures, and we should bear this in mind when building things. So first he goes through all these experiments about space and animals, especially with lil mice, which are pretty interesting. Then he talks about our different senses (because that's how we interact with space). Then he gets to the juicy stuff, which is: a) Americans; b) Eastern Europeans and Germans; c) Japanese; d) Arabs (samples of whose populations in America he's interviewed). And he basically concludes that all of these people have different ideas of space and it can affect our interactions with one another, cuz one person's bubble is another person's harassment.

He actually has a lot of neat observations in this section. My favourite story is about a Polish guy who didn't like queues so he basically played non-consensual Red Rover with an unsuspecting queue of Americans ("just to rile up those sheep"). He talks about breath; how Americans are taught not to breathe into people's faces but other people might not think that's weird. Germans apparently close doors and people in offices might be like "omg are they mad" but really they are just private. It's just all very interesting, even if it is generalization, because it just makes you consider how you yourself use space.

Lastly, he talks about things like "social space", "personal space", etc. So the reason I think this work was probably groundbreaking is because he has to define "personal space", which probably means he made up the term, whereas now everybody knows what it means (especially that woman from the TEDTalks about Introversion). And he thinks architects should consider everything he is talking about and social scientists should be funded/consulted when you are planning cities and stuff.

This book made me think about how my family uses space. My cousins in Pakistan got their house renovated a few years ago. It was a really old house, with 3 big bedrooms, a big attic space, and just overall just a lot of space and very few walls and very little privacy. They would host a lot of family members as guests, and we would all sit in the bedroom-cum-tv-room and watch TV on mattresses that were kept on the ground (to host the maximum number of bums). That's basically where we all sat and there was basically no privacy and people always saw each other cuz it was unavoidable. And everybody shared like, 3 washrooms.

So, like I said, their house was renovated into this superrrrr nice IKEA type house with a lot of bedrooms (one for each of their daughters) and a separate TV room. Honestly, straight out of an IKEA catalogue. Gorgeous house. Each daughter got her own washroom too. But, despite the obvious nostalgia for one's own house, I swear a bunch of the daughters feel so depressed in that house. And I swear it's because they are not used to living in this separate sort of way, with their own beds. They were raised in a very close-knit everybody sees everybody else all the time type of way. It seems like they just have too much privacy and they can't handle the lack of "ronaq" (fun/interaction). So what was meant to be a really nice renovation is actually causing my uncle's daughters a bit of depression and changing their family culture a lot.

So that's the first time I thought about how space has affected someone's psyche. Another one is how houses in Canada don't have bedrooms on the ground floor. As a result, the elderly are forced to walk up stairs to get to their beds, which increases their risks of falling down the steps, which increases their chances of going to long-term care, which a lot of them don't want. It just seems so simple - keep your bed on the main floor? But nope. That's not the way houses are designed here (mostly).

And my family isn't very private either. We kind of have bedrooms but kind of don't and anybody can sleep anywhere and you just have to deal with it. And I like it this way. Although my brothers are messy and it drives me crazy, there is something nice about knowing that the house is your oyster. And the lack of privacy sort of builds a trust? I guess?

Anyway. What I'm saying is, that after reading this, I guess I don't dislike the term "safe space" that much anymore. I guess.
Profile Image for Irène.
188 reviews37 followers
October 30, 2019
Ok... so usually I don’t rate non-fiction, theoretical books. But I’ve read this one for my big end of studies project. One of my teachers recommends it to me for the topic I want to work with... And it didn’t help me. I mean... I only took note of 2 things out of the whole book and the last one was page 83 out of 244...
Profile Image for Alice Wardle.
Author 1 book
September 12, 2022
Edward T. Hall provides a refreshing approach to understanding the sense of space, a topic which has been termed proxemics. Whereas typical Western scientists focus on a topic from a Western viewpoint, Hall takes into consideration the differences in thought and experience between cultures; different cultures perceive personal space differently.

Hall claims to have discovered different types of space that is perceived be every person: intimate space (close contact with a partner), personal distance (space shared with close friends and family), social distance (space shared with familiar acquaintances), and public distance (space shared with strangers). A stress response can be triggered if these distances are breached, inappropriately. With the increasing human population in the world, it is more important than ever to provide the suitable amount of available social and private space.

The book has also forced me to consider the effect of overcrowding in the digital dimension. If we perceive our bodies to extend past its physical properties in the form of personal space 'bubbles' in the real world, then do we extend our sense of self in the form of personal bubbles in the digital world? How do we deal with digital distance, if such a thing exists? Might digital overcrowding result in a stress response similar to that of physical overcrowding?

The topic of proxemics, and space in general, is fascinating as it opens up a world (or a hidden dimension) that you've never paid attention to before. This book will expose you to a way of thinking that is new and illuminating.
Profile Image for انشراح شبلاق.
Author 1 book146 followers
June 7, 2012
أمتعتني قراءة هذا الكتاب، لكنه من النوع الذي يستلزم بعضاّ من التركيز لاستيعابه.. الفصول الأولى أشعرتني بالملل إلى حدِّ ما؛ فقد كانت تحكي عن تجارب الحيوانات وبيئاتها وتفاعلاتها، ربما كان المقصود أن نربط بين الحيوانات وبين الإنسان في تلك التجارب.. إلا أن الفصول اللاحقة كانت ممتعة خاصةً عندما بدأ الحديث عن الأبعاد والمساحات والبيئات والتفاعلات بين البشر من جنسيات مختلفة..فتحدث من منظور الأمريكيين والأوروبيين واليابانيين والعرب..

أعجبتني دراساته وتفسيراته لسلوكيات العرب وأنماط معيشتهم وسكناهم وتعاملاتهم، لكن كان من المضحك نوعاً ما أن تجد أن كثير من عدم التوافق بين العرب وغيرهم يعود إلى اختلاف النظرة أو الثقافة المتبعة للتعامل مع ذلك الأمر.. الكاتب أمريكي لكنه أدرج دراساته بكل موضوعية ودعمها بتجاربه الشخصية وملاحظاته.

220 reviews4 followers
November 18, 2020
A refreshing studying social distancing, relevant during during the coronavirus pandemic more acutely than when the book was published in 1969.

Though I was already familiar with the basic concepts and the significance of anthropology to increase our understanding of cultural differences in our space requirements, I especially enjoyed the discussions on the place of architecture appropriate to different cultures and space preferences. It reminded me of Russian era kitchens built for the Poles in ugly high rises during the Soviet occupation. Russian plans were not designed to fit Polish culture values.
6 reviews2 followers
May 5, 2009
I read this one a long time ago, but I still count it as one of my favorite books. Interesting sociological study of how different people use space in their everyday relationships. The meaning of open and closed doore in different cultures; the importance of distance in human relationships, etc. Fascinating and an eye opener on cultural differences!
Profile Image for Zainab Mh.
42 reviews6 followers
May 13, 2016
كتب ثري بالتفاصيل الدقيقة المهمة المغفلة في معرفة النفس والبيئة وفهم
التواصل والأنفعال كنت أفكر في هذه الامور ووجدت كتاب ملم فيها ويشرحها أستمتعت بالتفاصيل

..تمنيت لو كان الكتاب في هذه السنوات ليشرح تأثير الاجهزة الذكية في التواصل والبيئة

..لم أتافجئ كثيرا في معاناة المؤلف في دراسة مفهوم الحيز لدى العرب فهذا أنعكاس مبرر جداً لعدم وضوحهم مع انفسهم ومع الحياة بشكل عام
Profile Image for Hana Al Maktoum.
183 reviews88 followers
March 9, 2020
Outdated yet still interesting to read. I read about 80% of the book.

A side note: the sexist language bothered me at times but it was a nice reminder of how much we improved towards gender equality. Little things such as using "human being" instead of "man" matters.
Profile Image for عُلا.
70 reviews2 followers
October 21, 2011
في حياة كل يوم طالما اعتبرت "مسافة الأمان "مطلوبة في التعامل مع البشر على اختلافهم ......هذا الكتاب فسر هذه الحاجة وشرح معاني لـمسافات أساسية في حياة الفرد وأثر انعدامها أو اختلاطها معنويا وماديا
Profile Image for Nora.
5 reviews13 followers
August 25, 2012
من أجمل الكتب التي قرأتها وتتحدث عن علم المسافة وأهميته في ضبط علاقتنا بكل شيء حولنا أنصح بقراءته للمهتمين بعلم الإجتماع وعلم الإنسان
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