Heritage and pathways to wellbeing : from personal to social benefits, between experience identity and capability shaping

Gallou, Eirini (2022) Heritage and pathways to wellbeing : from personal to social benefits, between experience identity and capability shaping. Wellbeing, Space and Society, 3. 100084. (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wss.2022.100084)

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The impact of historic places and assets on community wellbeing has been the focus on many studies for more than two decades now, with latest policy and academic research focusing more on mental and physical health benefits from engagement with heritage for individuals and certain groups as well. This paper presents a first, comprehensive realist review of wellbeing benefits and pathways through which those emerge. Benefits related to exposure to or engagement with historic places are discussed, attempting a classification of academic papers and empirical published studies, according to various types of place experiences (range from experiencing to living in a historic environment). The complexity of defining what heritage is, lies in the heart of unpicking any wellbeing benefits stemming from experiencing or engaging with it. The evidence are structured under eight key ‘pathways to wellbeing’, summarising effects through identity, experience, capabilities changes (direct effects) or wider improvements on wellbeing through quality of one's living environment (indirect effects). The multiplicity of wellbeing aspects (from eudemonic to hedonic, personal or social) observed and the indirect health-related outcomes mapped further perplexes the evidence reporting, as different interventions may trigger and generate different health and wellbeing outcomes. The papers aims to assist further researchers to understand better the ways in which heritage activities can stimulate mental or physical health outcomes directly or indirectly, improve reporting across different types of places and help study the mechanisms of how these benefits occur at the individual and community level in further depth.


Gallou, Eirini ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3353-516X;