Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 2 - 90

Students used their bedroom spaces to engage in processes
of belonging by creating privacy, personalizing the space,
and shaping a presentation of themselves.

RESEARCH DESIGN
Part of a larger, multi-year research project,
this qualitative case study addressed the following research questions: (1) How do residence hall spaces facilitate or hinder the
development of belonging? and (2) How do
students use their bedroom spaces to engage in processes of belonging? Case study
methodology offers an inductive and iterative
theory-building approach that is particularly
useful for exploring a phenomenon within a
particular context (de Vaus, 2005; Yin, 1989).
Thus, a single case student design centered
on West University (a pseudonym) enabled an
in-depth examination of student experiences
in residential spaces and the relationship between these spaces and student belonging.

Theoretical Frameworks
This research is framed by a combination
of symbolic interactionism (Blumer, 1969),
an interactionist view of belonging (Samura,
2016), and critical spatial approaches (e.g.,
Delaney, 2002; Harvey, 1996; Massey, 1994).
From a symbolic interactionist perspective,
meaning is created through interactions
(Blumer, 1969); it is not pre-existent or unchangeable but is created and re-created
through interactions.
	
Drawing upon a symbolic interactionist
approach, Samura (2016) framed belonging
as an interactional process. Belonging is
more than a feeling or view; it is a process
that requires ongoing effort. Furthermore,
the meaning of belonging is created and
re-created through interactions between
or among people and between people and
spaces.

	
A critical spatial perspective offers a
useful lens to examine interactions between
people and spaces. This perspective emphasizes how spaces-that is, built environments-are not neutral (Massey, 1994); they
are not blank slates or empty receptacles in
which activities occur (Tickamyer, 2000).
Instead, space affects people, and people affect space. Space also contributes to and is
reflective of power dynamics (Harvey, 1996).
This study examines students' processes of
belonging through the multiple meanings of
space and of student identities that are created and re-created through interactions with
both people and various residential spaces.

Setting and Participants
This article focuses on findings from data collected between January 2018 and May 2018
at West University, a medium-size private
university located on the West Coast of the
United States. West University's residential
community comprises four on-campus residence halls (both traditional double-loaded
corridor residence halls and suite-style
residences), two apartment buildings, and
one off-campus apartment building. Of the
2,208 students living in on-campus housing during the time of data collection, 55%
lived in triple-occupancy halls, 18% lived
in double-occupancy halls, and 7% lived in
quadruple-occupancy halls. Approximately
20% of students who resided on campus
were in apartments (with 50% living in
double-occupancy rooms). An estimated
4% of students residing on campus lived
independently in either an apartment or
residence hall room.

Volume 47, No. 2 * 2021

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