Overview Edit

In her interview with Social Science Bites, a podcast series with leading social scientists, professor and geographer Doreen Massey defines space as the "dimension of the world in which we all live." Place, on the other hand, is a specific location or destination.

Definition and History Edit

For the most part people think of space as being a distance or something to be crossed. This definition of space suggests that space has no relation to time. However, the French philosopher and historian Michel Foucault wrote in the later part of his life that this concept and idea of space is wrong.

When Doreen Massey refers to space she is not talking about outer space or atomic space; she defines space as “that dimension of the world in which we live,” and it is “a pincushion of a million stories.” It is not, however, a “flat surface across which we walk.” She goes on to say that space is “a cut through the myriad stories in which we are all living at any one moment” and “space is the dimension of things being, existing at the same time: of simultaneity. It’s the dimension of multiplicity.” When considering space one must consider geography.

Space is not simply a place or a specific location. While it might be concrete in this sense space can also be abstract since “space is material: it is the land out there. But there’s a dimension of space that is equally abstract and just a dimension.”Massey wants her audience to consider that space matters. It affects our understandings of the world, our attitudes toward others, and our politics. It affects, for instance, the way we understand globalization, the way we approach cities, the way we develop, and practice, a sense of place. On the other hand, place is a specific location or destination. 

Examples Edit

Social media is an example of virtual space. It isn't concrete, but it is a thread that promotes human and social interaction. While it isn't a physical space it is a dimension of the world that is teeming with stories and relationships.

Anywhere concrete and physical can be a place – as long as you don't consider myriad of stories and narratives simultaneously occurring in that place. For example, the city of Chicago is a place – so long as you don't consider the interconnectedness and multiplicity of it.

Another aspect about the notion of space and place is also closely tied to our cultural, social and political perceptions at any given point of time. Massey used Argentina as an exmaple in which Argentina is widely considered as a 'developing country'. The distinction is drawn simply because of the degree of 'developed-ness'; it is as if all countries will go through the trajectory of time and move from 'undeveloped' to 'developed'. It is as if a specific characteristic and assigned to a specific moment on the timeline. The author atrributes this to political factors in defining 'developed-ness' when all the different countries co-exist within the same time line. In cartography, space is similarly defined according to political and social beliefs. The most common version of the world map somewhat places Europe at the center of the world. Similarly, this is due to political reasons when the cartographers' perceptions were influenced and defined by their own understanding.

Greenland-problemResources and Further Reading Edit

  1. O'Guinn, "Turning to Space: Social Density, Social Class, and the Value of Things in Stores"

This article explains space and material objects within the space, and how it relates to the social class and social density.

2. Mishra, "Space, Communication and Spatial Violence: Situating the Mechanism of Spatial Exclusion and Inclusion"

Naveen Mishra draws upon Henri Lefebvre's spatial triad model to discuss spatial access and developing societies in lived in spaces and how it causes social divide and turbulence.

3. Richardson, "Real-Time Space–Time Integration in GIScience and Geography"

An article on real space and time interaction that's possible with GIS systems.

4. Dirksmeier, "Situational Places: Rethinking Geographies of Inercultural Interaction in Super-Diverse Urban Space"

This article is a look at cities and public spaces as a place for cultural interaction and exchange.

5. Neely, "Social Geographies of Race: Connecting Race and Space"

Brooke Neely looks at the relation between space and racism.

Keywords Edit


Michel Foucault

Geography of Power


Sources Edit