The phenomenological approach to environmental meaning is considered in relation to social theory and postmodernism. Phenomenology exhibits a concern with the experiences and meanings of 'place' while certain recent social theory focuses on the manner in which social structure and ideology constrain and reproduce such meaning in everyday life. It is argued that the phenomenological approach needs to be integrated with such tehory for both a rigorous understanding of place experience and for the questioning of ideological constraint and reproduction. Postmodernism, as a pastiche of formal meanings, reduces meanings to references. It appropriates meaning and borrows legitimacy from both phenomenology and social theory without questioning the legitimacy of existing ideologies. The community design framework is proposed as one that permits the restructuring of design practice through an ideologically self-critical place-making process.