I’d say most people regard ‘local’ as geographically within reach, and obviously that differs individually, which is fine. If terminology is fuzzy it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s invalid. We need definitions for administrative areas (wards, cantons, parishes) but not to explain individually-variable experiences of the socially-charged space nearest to the home.
And maybe it helps to think about what local is not. For instance, it’s not the same as nearness, and that’s reinforced in this image (courtesy of Indy Johar, 00 architects), which reminds us how transport efficiencies influence our sense of distance.
So why after generations and centuries of people gathering together in villages, towns and cities, are we suddenly struggling with the fact that terms like neighbourhood and locality aren’t rigidly defined? What has happened for instance that causes Dave quite reasonably to suggest that
‘it will be increasingly important to research how people’s notions of their own ‘local’ will determine levels of interest’? …