The différance between society and space: nested scales and the returns of spatial fetishism

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Abstract. By using a framework of spatial categories to illuminate social change, scale analysis intersects with a series of arguments that have been put forward over the years regarding the relationship between society and space. The coherence of scale analysis and its contribution to our understanding of this relationship is examined here, focussing particularly upon the influential writings of Erik Swyngedouw. It is argued that these writings are haunted by a spatial fetishism that has deconstructive consequences, confounding the distinction between society and space upon which their composition depends. But this conclusion points (through a sort of ‘spectral logic’) towards a wider deconstruction, which suggests that the distinction between these terms or realms is itself the product of a kind of ‘scaling’. Despite its centrality to the development of geographical thought, and its congruence with other dualisms such as culture/nature, the juxtaposition of society and space remains the unexamined ground of much contemporary writing. Recent efforts by feminists and others to rework the notion of ‘space’, and indeed of ‘society’, would benefit from addressing these together in their articulation through the in-between-ness of ‘scale’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-206
Number of pages18
JournalEnvironment and Planning D: Society and Space
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2005


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