Introduction: Beyond the centrality of media and the centrality of space

Matteo Tarantino, Simone Tosoni


Starting from the middle of the twentieth century human geography has allowed social sciences to escape the prison of Euclidean, abstract space. In that prison, social actors performed within an empty, static container known as “space,” which was more or less a background to their actions. This liberation had many fathers. We could quote Henri Lefebvre’s writings on spatial production (Lefebvre, 1991), Michel de Certeau’s notion of “space as practiced place” (de Certeau, 1984), and Yi–Fu Tuan’s (1976) treatment of “humanistic geography” among the most known “co–conspirators” of this escape. Breaking free of the notion of abstract space, meant to develop the powerful theoretical tool of socio–spatial production. Space emerged as a product of human interaction and at the same time as a context structuring those practices. By the mid–1980s, Massey expressed the circular relationship between space and the social in no ambiguous terms. “Space is a social construct ... [but] the spatial is not only an outcome: it is also part of the explanation [of social processes]” (Massey, 1984). Producing the space we inhabit meant that the more people were in a space, the more rapidly and often unpredictably it changed. And the more diverse the people, the more diverse the way they thought, and what they did in space. Therefore, the more rapid and unpredictable were the changes.

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