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The Hidden Dimension

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  1,135 ratings  ·  90 reviews
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.
Paperback, 240 pages
Published September 1st 1990 by Anchor (first published January 1st 1966)
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 ·  1,135 ratings  ·  90 reviews

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Dec 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
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 pu ...more
Meghan Fidler
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
Aug 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
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.
Bob Nichols
Dec 21, 2017 rated it liked it
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 communicatio ...more
May 04, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: psychology
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
Oct 30, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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...
Jan 06, 2015 rated it liked it
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 ...more
May 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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!
Dana Esreb
Apr 10, 2013 marked it as to-read
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.
Harriet Caldwell
Jan 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Although this book contained a lot of technical jargon, in terms of what it has made me realise it has been a very good book, it has opened up my understanding of the proxemics of space, how people keep distances between themselves and other people or things. Each person has their own boundary, it is how man uses the space that I am really interested in. I am conducting sleep studies, I want to understand more of the unconsciousness, and how the proxemics alter through the consciousness to the u ...more
Teri Temme
Nov 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I didn't like the animal studies - but the cultural and space planning discussions towards the end were priceless.

"This book emphasizes that virtually everything that man is and does is associated with the experience of space. ... Hence, there is no alternative to accepting the fact that people reared in different cultures live in different sensory worlds."
Hana Al Maktoum
Mar 09, 2020 rated it liked it
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.
Mar 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
my first interaction with Hall's works, defiantly worth diving more into the other ones.
great insight for architects for in a field usually disregarded
Michelle Powell
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is really hard-to put down. Absolutely engaging.
Brandon H
Feb 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, american
A thought-provoking book about how people experience public spaces, with a not-so-secret agenda against the Detroit automobile industry.
Karla Kitalong
I re-read this to learn about high- and low-context cultures. And I did.
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: challenge
It is a great book full of briliiant ideas, although I found myself perplex at his use of some terms or attitudes (as with women) that of course can surprise us today. I think also that some excerpts should be better referenced as well, as when he is explaining attitudes in "Arab" or "Mediterranean" countries (me myself being Mediterranean) without proper references and just pure observation. I found that some attitudes are simply general assumptions and topics.
We should understand when it was w
Rani Jain
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sam Hall
Jan 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
There's plenty to say about this book, written in the 1960's, that is still prevalent and if nothing else prophetic. But the dated nature of observations made in terms of race and sex get in the way of applying concepts to modern city living.

However, there are gems of interest in connecting lines of species, between humans and animals (arguably both animals). The way nature responds to the way we are living is robust and dangerous, but we continue to live as though we are not our automobiles, ho
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: architecture
On reading experience: It's clear, structured, easy to read. Each paragraph sandwiched in deductive form, tho the detail is the real treasure. By reading preface you know exactly where to go without having to read much of another chapter. Case of culture being present by comparison and story, made it much easier to understand and remember. Plus, I don't even know this kind of book could make me tickled in some part, i supposed i'd like to hear how germany would say about some content.

On content:
Maryam Samer
Though I have been waiting for a while to read this book, have seen it been sited in different publications... they made this book sound interesting and worth reading. Well I went through the book, thought of citing it, well I already did cite it and wish there was some way to take back my steps. I found some parts somehow offensive to my culture and not true, that could be due it was written long time ago and that how things were when the book was written, or it could be that the author's subje ...more
Apr 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Students of Architecture and Urban Planning
4 stars

Edward T. Hall presents a view on space that is intimately related to culture as much as it is related to biology.

Hall starts by analysing the way animals perceive spatial distances between themselves and other animals and how they react in situations of overpopulation. Then, the author explains the way humans perceive the distance through our different senses, and how it has affected art and literature.

The next chapters focus on the different ways to see spatial organization and human d
Salman Merchant™
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
Hall, T. (1966) write in "The Arab World" about the differences in social behavior between Arabs and Americans. He chose these differences by using examples about differences of public behaviors in cultures with addition to personal distance, privacy and how people face each other while talking. He also explains how Arabs try to involve themselves in each others life and how they don't like boundaries and then he concludes by stating how cultures have different views about these behaviors.

I admi
Oct 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I thoroughly enjoyed The Hidden Dimension, a book that I would call "pop anthropology" from 1966. The author discusses proxemics, or the study of human's perception of space, especially between people. One of the most revealing things to me was Edward T. Hall's basic, off-hand assertion that Americans have an "acultural bias" -- they do not believe there are significant cultural differences between people. This is an enlightening idea in light of Hall's discussion of the proxemic differences bet ...more
Scott Stirling
Jun 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
An in depth book about the psychology of personal and public spaces. Listed under architecture and psychology. Crosses back and forth into psychology and culture and architecture, relates to city and building design to meet universal and culturally specific requirements for personal and public spaces. Relates psychology to biology and looks at some spatial psychology studies in animals, if I recall. There are some black and white photos in the book. One is of pigeons on a wire, spaced so evenly, ...more
Jean Santos
I'm marking this as "Read" simply because Goodreads curiously doesn't have a "Lost Interest" or "Gave Up" button. My disinterest in this book stems from a primary assumption that linguistic relativity can extrapolated to understand/explain man's perception of social and personal space. This is a primo example of pop anthropology from the late '60s and its age shows.

To be blunt, I dropped this book because I'm pretty sure that the significance of linguistic relativity has been walked back since
Brenna Flood
Jul 28, 2007 rated it liked it
Has a really excellent section pertaining to the differences in socialization around the world regarding spaces and sense of space.

One example noted in the book that impacted me was the observation that French cafe seating is extremely intimate and closely packed, while American counterpart's furniture is very spacious - intimating that differences in our socialization that reflect upon how we interact, regard, and value other people.

These and many other observations make this a very enjoyable
Feb 01, 2009 rated it liked it
I haven't read much about anthropology, and I thought this was quite an insightful reading. I hope I can find some more recent studies about the subject. I particularly liked how it shows how much you can learn about yourself just by "mindfully" observing your own behavior, or in other words, how much knowledge you are missing by failing to notice the small things in what you do. One thing I would like to share with those who are interested, Arabic is my native language, and I know there is a wo ...more
Oct 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: architecture
the book had some interesting facts, but felt extremely outdated. from the way he presents his view on subjects to how he writes about the different cultures, i just got the feeling that the book is old. From an architectural pov there were some interesting issues raised about the various types of space and how they correspond with the different cultures and perceptions but apart from that i didn't get much out of the book :/
Fahed Suheil
Apr 10, 2013 rated it liked it
In Edward T. Hall's book "The Hidden Dimension", he discusses in his chapter. "The Arab World" how arabs are invovlved with each other on many different levels simultaneously, using a negative tone. Personally, i disagree with this point because usually being involved can save a person's life. For example, if two people where fighting, a person's life could be taken away before the police officers arrive or even be notified. Without involvement, a call for help would take too long.
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topics  posts  views  last activity   
The arab world 1 11 Apr 13, 2013 01:47AM  
The Arab World - respone 1 9 Apr 11, 2013 01:55PM  
Response to Concept of Privacy in Arab World 1 13 Apr 11, 2013 04:06AM  
Summary of Concept of privacy in Cultural Dimnsions 1 7 Apr 11, 2013 04:03AM  

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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 th

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