The examples and perspective in this article may not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (December 2021)
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A home, or domicile, is a space used as a permanent or semi-permanent residence for one or many humans. It is a fully or semi sheltered space and can have both interior and exterior aspects to it. Homes provide sheltered spaces for instance rooms, where domestic activity can be performed such as sleeping, preparing food, eating and hygiene as well as providing spaces for work and leisure such as remote working, studying and playing.
Physical forms of homes can be static such as a house or an apartment, mobile such as a houseboat, trailer or yurt or digital such as virtual space. The aspect of ‘home’ can be considered across scales, from the micro scale showcasing the most intimate spaces of the individual dwelling and direct surrounding area to the macro scale of the geographic area such as town, village, city, country or planet.
The concept of ‘home’ has been researched and theorized across disciplines - topics ranging from the idea of home, the interior, the psyche, liminal space, contested space to gender and politics. The home as a concept expands beyond residence as contemporary lifestyles and technological advances redefine the way the global population lives and works.
The earliest homes that humans inhabited were likely naturally occurring features such as caves. The earliest human fossils found in caves come from a series of caves near Krugersdorp and Mokopane in South Africa. The cave sites of Sterkfontein, Swartkrans, Kromdraai B, Drimolen, Malapa, Cooper's D, Gladysvale, Gondolin and Makapansgat have yielded a range of early human species dating back to between three and one million years ago, including Australopithecus africanus, Australopithecus sediba and Paranthropus robustus. However, it is not generally thought that these early humans were living in the caves, but that they were brought into the caves by carnivores that had killed them.
The first early hominid ever found in Africa, the Taung Child in 1924, was also thought for many years to come from a cave, where it had been deposited after being preyed upon by an eagle. However, this is now debated. Caves do form in the dolomite of the Ghaap Plateau, including the Early, Middle and Later Stone Age site of Wonderwerk Cave; however, the caves that form along the escarpment's edge, like that hypothesized for the Taung Child, are formed within a secondary limestone deposit called tufa. There is numerous evidence for other early human species inhabiting caves from at least one million years ago in different parts of the world, including Homo erectus in China at Zhoukoudian, Homo rhodesiensis in South Africa at the Cave of Hearths (Makapansgat), Homo neanderthalensis and Homo heidelbergensis in Europe at Archaeological Site of Atapuerca, Homo floresiensis in Indonesia, and the Denisovans in southern Siberia.
In southern Africa, early modern humans regularly used sea caves as shelter starting about 180,000 years ago when they learned to exploit the sea for the first time. The oldest known site is PP13B at Pinnacle Point. This may have allowed rapid expansion of humans out of Africa and colonization of areas of the world such as Australia by 60–50,000 years ago. Throughout southern Africa, Australia, and Europe, early modern humans used caves and rock shelters as sites for rock art, such as those at Giants Castle. Caves such as the yaodong in China were used for shelter; other caves were used for burials (such as rock-cut tombs), or as religious sites (such as Buddhist caves). Among the known sacred caves are China's Cave of a Thousand Buddhas and the sacred caves of Crete. As technology progressed, humans and other hominids began constructing their own dwellings. Buildings such as huts and longhouses have been used for living since the late Neolithic.
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According to Kirsten Gram-Hanssen, "It can be argued that historically and cross-culturally there is not always [a] strong relation between the concept of home and the physical building, and that this mode of thinking is rooted in the Enlightenment of the seventeenth century". Before, one's home was more public than private; traits such as privacy, intimacy and familiarity would proceed to achieve greater promience. The connection between home and house was reinforced by a case law declaration from Edward Coke: "The house of everyman is to him as his castle and fortresse, as well as his defense against injury and violence, as for his repose". Colloquially, this was adapted into the phrase "The Englishman's home is his castle" which popularised the notion of home as house.
There have been multiple theories regarding one's choice of home with the residential conditions of their childhood often reflected in their later choice of home.
A house is a single-unit residential building. It may range in complexity from a rudimentary hut to a complex structure of wood, masonry, concrete or other material, outfitted with plumbing, electrical, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. Houses use a range of different roofing systems to keep precipitation such as rain from getting into the dwelling space. Houses may have doors or locks to secure the dwelling space and protect its inhabitants and contents from burglars or other trespassers. Most conventional modern houses in Western cultures will contain one or more bedrooms and bathrooms, a kitchen or cooking area, and a living room. A house may have a separate dining room, or the eating area may be integrated into another room. Some large houses in North America have a recreation room. In traditional agriculture-oriented societies, domestic animals such as chickens or larger livestock (like cattle) may share part of the house with humans.The social unit that lives in a house is known as a household. Most commonly, a household is a family unit of some kind, although households may also be other social groups, such as roommates or, in a rooming house, unconnected individuals. Some houses only have a dwelling space for one family or similar-sized group; larger houses called townhouses or row houses may contain numerous family dwellings in the same structure. A house may be accompanied by outbuildings, such as a garage for vehicles or a shed for gardening equipment and tools. A house may have a backyard or a front yard or both, which serve as additional areas where inhabitants can relax or eat.
In North America the word "homestead" historically referred to land claimed by a settler or squatter under the Homestead Acts (USA) or Dominion Lands Act (Canada). In Old English the term was used to mean a human settlement, and in Southern Africa the term is used for a cluster of several houses normally occupied by a single extended family.In Australia it refers to the owner's house and the associated outbuildings of a pastoral property, known as a station.
A housing cooperative, or housing co-op, is a legal entity, usually a cooperative or a corporation, which owns real estate, consisting of one or more residential buildings; it is one type of housing tenure. Housing cooperatives are a distinctive form of home ownership that have many characteristics that differ from other residential arrangements such as single family home ownership, condominiums and renting.The corporation is membership based, with membership granted by way of a share purchase in the cooperative. Each shareholder in the legal entity is granted the right to occupy one housing unit. A primary advantage of the housing cooperative is the pooling of the members' resources so that their buying power is leveraged; thus lowering the cost per member in all the services and products associated with home ownership.
Home repair involves the diagnosis and resolution of problems in a home, and is related to home maintenance to avoid such problems. Many types of repairs are "do it yourself" (DIY) projects, while others may be so complicated, time-consuming or risky as to suggest the assistance of a qualified handyperson, property manager, contractor/builder, or other professionals.Repair is not the same as home improvement, although many improvements can result from repairs or maintenance. Often the costs of larger repairs will justify the alternative of investment in full-scale improvements. It may make just as much sense to upgrade a home system (with an improved one) as to repair it or incur ever-more-frequent and expensive maintenance for an inefficient, obsolete or dying system.
Housekeeping refers to the management of duties and chores involved in the running of a household, such as cleaning, cooking, home maintenance, shopping, and bill payment. These tasks may be performed by members of the household, or by other persons hired for the purpose. This is a more broad role than a cleaner, who is focussed only on the cleaning aspect. The term is also used to refer to the money allocated for such use. By extension, it may also refer to an office or organization, as well as the maintenance of computer storage systems.A housekeeper is a person employed to manage a household and the domestic staff. According to the 1861 Victorian era Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management, the housekeeper is second in command in the house and "except in large establishments, where there is a house steward, the housekeeper must consider his/herself as the immediate representative of her mistress".
Housing tenure refers to the financial arrangements under which someone has the right to live in a house or apartment. The most frequent forms are tenancy, in which rent is paid by the occupant to a landlord, and owner-occupancy, where the occupant owns their own home. Mixed forms of tenure are also possible.
The basic forms of tenure can be subdivided, for example an owner-occupier may own a house outright, or it may be mortgaged. In the case of tenancy, the landlord may be a private individual, a non-profit organization such as a housing association, or a government body, as in public housing.Surveys used in social science research frequently include questions about housing tenure, because it is a useful proxy for income or wealth, and people are less reluctant to give information about it.
Squatting is the action of occupying an abandoned or unoccupied area of land or a building, usually residential, that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have lawful permission to use. The United Nations estimated in 2003 that there were one billion slum residents and squatters globally. Squatting occurs worldwide and tends to occur when people who are poor and homeless find empty buildings or land to occupy for housing. It has a long history, broken down by country below.
In developing countries and least developed countries, shanty towns often begin as squatted settlements. In African cities such as Lagos much of the population lives in slums. There are pavement dwellers in India and in Hong Kong as well as rooftop slums. Informal settlements in Latin America are known by names such as villa miseria (Argentina), pueblos jóvenes (Peru) and asentamientos irregulares (Guatemala, Uruguay). In Brazil, there are favelas in the major cities and land-based movements.In industrialized countries, there are often residential squats and also political squatting movements, which can be anarchist, autonomist or socialist in nature, for example in the self-managed social centres of Italy or squats in the United States. Oppositional movements from the 1960s and 1970s created freespaces in Denmark or squatting village in the Netherlands, and in England and Wales, there were estimated to be 50,000 squatters in the late 1970s. Each local situation determines the context: in Athens, Greece, there are refugee squats; Germany has social centres; in Spain there are many squats.
Homes may be lost in ways ranging from the upheavals of natural disasters, fraud, theft, arson, or war-related destruction, to the more common voluntary sale, loss for one or more occupants on relationship breakdown, expropriation by government or legislated cause, repossession or foreclosure to pay secured debts, eviction by landlords, disposal by time-limited means – lease, or absolute gift. Jurisdiction-dependent means of home loss include adverse possession, unpaid property taxation and corruption such as in circumstances of a failed state.
Personal insolvency, development or sustaining of mental illness or severe physical incapacity without affordable domestic care commonly lead to a change of home. The underlying character of a home may be debased by structural defects, natural subsidence, neglect or soil contamination. Refugees are people who have fled their homes due to violence or persecution. They may seek temporary housing in a shelter or they may claim asylum in another country in an attempt to relocate permanently.
A home is generally a place that is close to the heart of the owner, and can become a prized possession. It has been argued that psychologically "The strongest sense of home commonly coincides geographically with a dwelling. Usually, the sense of home attenuates as one moves away from that point, but it does not do so in a fixed or regular way." Further psychological interperation contends that homes serve the purpose of satisfying identity-based desires and expression. There exist many connotations regarding the concept of a home, including of security, identity, ritual and socialisation, varied definitions and residents may associate their home with meanings, emotions, experiences and relationships. It is this sociality and action which some scholars have said conditions a house in to a home, which is, according to Gram-Hanssen, "a phenomenon made by its residents". Dysfunctional sociality may negate the sense of a residence being a home whereas the physical contents may endow the sense; alienated from home one may feel "metaphorically homeless". Romantic or nostalgic notions are typical in the conceptions of "ideal homes".
In modern America, an owned house has greater cachet as a home than other residences; debate exists as to if a rooming house can provide a home. Some housing scholars have contended that a conflation of house and home is the result of popular media and capitalist interest. Differing cultures may perceive the concept of a home differently, ascribing less value to the privacy of a residence or the residence itself – although housing issues have been seen as of great concern to immigrants. Sociologist Shelley Mallett preposed the idea of home as abstractions: space, feeling, praxis or "a way of being in the world". A person's conception of home can be dependent on congealing conditions, such as culture, geography or emotion.
Since it can be said that humans are generally creatures of habit, the state of a person's home has been known to physiologically influence their behavior, emotions, and overall mental health. Marianne Gullestad wrote of the home as the center of and as an attempt to amalgamate everyday life; one's conduct there, she said, can reflect greater culture or social values, such as gender roles insinuating the home to be the domain of women.[a] People may become homesick when they leave their home over an extended period of time. Places like homes can trigger self-reflection, thoughts about who someone is or used to be or who they might become. These types of reflections also occur in places where there is a collective historical identity, such as Gettysburg or Ground Zero. The time spent with one's home is a considerable element in establishing one's attachment. The perception of one's home can extend beyond the residence itself, to their neighbourhood, family, workplace or nation and one may feel as though they have multiple homes; to have felt at home beyond residence can be a significant element in one's appraisal of their life, a time in which notions of home, it has been observed, are more profound. The connection between home and family is pertinent, to the extent that some scholars consider the terms to be synonymous.
United Nation response
Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948 by the United Nations General Assembly, contains the following text regarding housing and quality of living: "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services..."
In 2004, the United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, defined a homeless household as "those households without a shelter that would fall within the scope of living quarters. They carry their few possessions with them, sleeping in the streets, in doorways or on piers, or in another space, on a more or less random basis."
In 2009, at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Conference of European Statisticians recommended that homeless people are classified in two broad groups (noting that this would not provide a complete definition):
- (a) Primary homelessness (or rooflessness). This category includes persons living in the streets without a shelter that would fall within the scope of living quarters.
- (b) Secondary homelessness. This category may include persons with no place of usual residence who move frequently between various types of accommodations (including dwellings, shelters, and institutions for the homeless or other living quarters). This category includes persons living in private dwellings but reporting ‘no usual address’ on their census form.
- Research showcases that "women's attachment to home is more pronounced than men's and increases with the length of time spent at home".
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