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By stressing the importance of such sites as sites of alternate ordering rather than simply of transgression, I aim to avoid any romance with the margins. I am trying to find a middle way, seeing places of Otherness neither as panoptical spaces of total control nor as marginal spaces of total freedom.

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Modernity is defined by the spatial play between freedom and control, and this is found most clearly in spaces of alternate ordering, heterotopia. In later chapters I look in detail at two further examples of such modern spaces, the masonic lodge and the factory, in order to further illustrate and develop the arguments that I have introduced here. The theoretical claims I have made about both utopia and heterotopia will be developed in more detail in Chapters 3 and 4 respectively, following a more detailed discussion of recent work on marginal space in Chapter 2. The Palais Royal, the masonic lodge and the factory.

These then are my badlands, not perhaps the most obvious to choose, but their significance lies in their role as sites of alternate modes of social ordering important to the development of modern societies. There is a rationale, however, in choosing these particular spaces. The first two were very much associated with the political and cultural life of a new bourgeois class, notably associated with an emerging public sphere during the eighteenth century, while the latter came to be their main economic space.

There are, of course, other examples of the spaces of modernity that could have been chosen here: museums, theatres, galleries, The Palais Royal as modernity 19 botanical gardens and so on. There are of course also other groups, based on class, gender and ethnicity, who have a different story to tell of their modernity. I have chosen examples associated with the dominant group in modern societies, the male bourgeoisie, as it is their view of modernity that other views have subsequently had to challenge.

The Otherness of the Palais Royal—confused, contradictory, ambivalent and decidedly different from the society that surrounded it—shows how these conditions facilitated the development of a distinct utopics that was expressed through an alternate mode of ordering. Without wishing to sound too glib, if one wanted so sum up as concisely as possible the expression of this utopic that lay behind the mode of ordering which heterotopia like the Palais Royal performed, it could be done in three words: liberty, equality and fraternity.

We have seen the emergence of work from critical human geographers Thrift , ; Massey ; Gregory and Urry ; Harvey ; Soja ; Cooke ; Shields ; Zukin ; Jackson and Penrose ; Keith and Pile ; Gregory ; Pile and Thrift , feminist geographers Rose ; Massey and cultural studies analysts Wilson ; Carter et al.

Much of this recent cultural geography draws on earlier theoretical interest in space to be found in French social theory in the works of Bachelard , Foucault , and Lefebvre In addition, anthropolog y, which, much more than sociolog y, has had a longstanding interest in space see Durkheim and Mauss ; Durkheim ; Turner ; Douglas , has started to have a wider impact on spatial theory.

While the subject matter of this new cultural geography has been diverse, there have been a number of key theoretical claims around which it has developed.

What is SOCIOLOGY OF LITERATURE? What does SOCIOLOGY OF LITERATURE mean?

First, space and place are not treated as sets of relations outside of society but implicated in the production of those social relations and are themselves, in turn, socially produced. Second, space and place are seen to be situated within relations of power and in some cases within relations of power-knowledge. Third, spatial relations and places associated with those spatial relations are seen to be multiple and contested. A place does not mean the same thing for one group of social agents as it does for another. In some cases something like a dominant ideology or hegemonic discourse of place is perceived Lefebvre with the possibility for resistance left open within interstitial or marginal spaces and the opportunities they leave open for counter-hegemonic representations of space.

Ideas of resistance and especially forms of transgression to the spatiality of 20 Margins, orderings and the laboratories 21 power have become a major interest within this field.

The Badlands of Modernity: Heterotopia and Social Ordering

The opportunities provided by places of resistance or places on the margin have therefore become one of the main foci that characterize this new cultural geography see Shields ; Wilson ; Rose Chapter 7; Hetherington a, b. Since Hegel first used the term modernity to refer to a period in history see Habermas , the idea of a temporal dimension to social order has been a dominant theme within social theory.

It is there in Marx and in most variations of classical sociology, with that social order being variously described as capitalism, industrial society, a gesellschaft, or indeed as modernity itself see Berman In this chapter, I look at some of the assumptions about space, notably marginal space, that lie behind this turn to culture in geographical analysis.

In particular, the works of Lefebvre , Bakhtin and Turner have been especially influential. I then discuss the use to which their ideas about marginal space have been put within this new cultural geography, notably in Shields , Wilson and Rose Finally I consider the whole issue of social order in relation to these issues of spatiality. Actornetwork theory see Callon ; Latour ; Law , with its focus on the process of ordering and on spaces like the laboratory that act as obligatory points of passage for this ordering, provides us with some means in which some of the problems encountered in cultural geography can be resolved.

All the same, I accept that something like margins do have some importance in the shaping of society. However, they have to be seen as more complex spaces than is usually the case, caught up in the processes of what I have called alternate social ordering.

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Even from within the humanist Marxist tradition, Lefebvre can be seen as a somewhat idiosyncratic thinker. Under the influence of both Nietzsche and surrealism early in his life see Nadeau , Lefebvre retained a belief, notably through his focus on everyday life as a field of political struggle, that it was heterogeneity of forms and spaces of resistance to the dominant social relations of capitalism that were the basis for potential social change , Representations of space are the hegemonic ideological representations associated with the space that is produced.

Space, in this account, can therefore be said to be fetishized in the same way that Marx argues that the commodity is fetishized in capitalist societies Marx For Lefebvre, resistance to the dominant social relations must make this space visible. This resistance takes place through what Lefebvre calls representational spaces sometimes translated as spaces of representation. This is the dominated—and hence passively experienced—space which the imagination seeks to change and appropriate.

It overlays physical space, making symbolic use of its objects. As we have seen, it was a space in which members of the Third Estate could meet and express their own interests in relative freedom, and at certain times, because of the associations with freedom that this space had, mobilize the crowd into acts of open revolt. Representational spaces are practices associated with places that have their origins in the realities of that everyday life, and in particular, through the realm of the imagination not immediate to the natural attitude, in resistance to the mundane and alienating features of everyday existence.

In that sense, they contain a utopian element in the form of a desire for some form of improvement or change within society. However, the logic behind such spaces is not one of complete autonomy, but one which emerges, according to Lefebvre, from what are seen as the contradictions in the production of social space. Such contradictions are a characteristic of capitalist modernity. For Lefebvre, the production of capitalist space aims to achieve homogeneity and retain an abstractness that leaves it invisible.

However, this process also produces contradictions that result in a condition of fragmentation that leads to the creation of a differential space that opens up the possibility for resistance in those areas of life and their associated spaces that remain unmediated by forms of commodification ff. Representational spaces involve making use of sites that have been left behind or left out as fragments produced by the tensions within the contradictory space of capitalism that lies hidden by its representations of space.


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The use of sites whose attributed meaning leaves them somewhat ambivalent and uncertain allows for these spaces, according to Lefebvre, to offer a vantage point from which the production of space can be made visible and be critically viewed. For Lefebvre, it is the task of acts of resistance, in such spaces, to make space as a whole visible, and in so doing reveal the social relations of power that operate within society.

In this account, activities associated with the production of representational spaces, are dis-placed, such that marginality is let free; marginal groups, marginal practices and marginal ways of thinking help produce the meaning of the sites that are used in the creation of representational space.

In the s when Lefebvre was writing The Production of Space he had in mind the sorts of acts of resistance by students and workers that he had seen in the representational spaces of the campuses and streets of Paris in For Lefebvre, representational spaces are spaces of freedom. That is where the problem begins.

If we were to apply this idea of representational space to societies of the late-eighteenth century, as in the case of the Palais Royal, the issues might be somewhat different. No doubt a simple analogy to spatialized acts of popular resistance, comparing the s and 70s with the s, would look at the crowd or popular street culture and festivals under threat from the authorities Yeo and Yeo ; Ozouf ; Burke However, this would tend to assume that the social order of a capitalist modernity had already been 24 Margins, orderings and the laboratories established.

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But one can ask the question: what about the representational spaces of the middle-class merchants, factory and mill owners, intellectuals and others waging their own battles against the persistent, in some countries insistent, influence of the aristocratic landowner, absolutist monarch and church? It was this class, and not the working class, that sought to wage war against absolutism while at the same time establishing its own interests and authority within state, economy and civil society.

The working class indeed did have their own representational spaces but they did not have a monopoly on them. The point that Lefebvre misses is that spaces of resistance are also spaces of alternative modes of ordering; they have their own codes, rules and symbols and they generate their own relations of power. This interplay between resistance and ordering is crucial to understanding the spatiality of modernity. He focuses on margins in relation to the social construction and production of space, described conceptually as social spatialization, and on the significance of places on the margins within the social production of space Shields develops a social constructionist theory of space, with particular emphasis on the significance of marginal, or liminal places — His second concern is with places whose meaning are marginal and in transition.

He sees the significance of such places as an opening for affective groups, or neo-tribes, engaged particularly in ludic and transgressive practices associated with the creation of new consumer-led identifications or lifestyles , Through four case-studies of marginal places: Brighton; Niagara Falls; the relationship between the north and south in Britain; and the Canadian north, Shields shows how certain places attain a particular mythological meaning of marginality which develops an independence from their social construction to become a place myth.

Such place myths, Shields argues, come to be seen as real and begin to influence the reception of a place in popular representations and imaginings. Place myths, for Shields, are the product of social practices out of which discourses about place and space are formed. Place myths become a means of framing social performances, interactions and presuppositions about appropriate activities in particular places. The nation is an example of a place myth, but they can be seen to exist at both lower and higher levels of resolution.

The body, a room, a house, street, town, city or continent, even the universe, can all be seen as having their own place myths. These are all imagined cultural formations that fit into a symbolic system of placing. Place myths are defined, therefore, not only by their own contested symbolic criteria, but also in relation to other places. Place myths also, according to Shields, form a system of differences.

In short, there is a tendency to conflate the social construction of space with its social production, a tendency that sometimes confuses cultural representation with social action.

For Shields, margins are always linked in a binary way with centres. They cannot, he argues, be separated from those centres. Rather, their existence is either defined by the centres as all that is excluded from the centre, or as a site of opposition to all that the centre stands for —8. While Shields is right not to treat margins as something unitary and exotic, his work reproduces and adheres to the idea of a binary relationship of centre and margin without fully exploring this relationship.

In particular, when margins are seen in relation to resistance, this issue of centres and margins needs to be developed around questions of social order. Order and resistance tend to get polarized. Shields identifies a series of binary oppositions that exist within society: rational and ludic; civilised and nature; centre and periphery; social order and carnivalesque; mundane and liminal By identifying how these binarisms are encoded into the space of a society, he goes on to suggest that Real spaces are hypostatized into the symbolic realm of imaginary space relations.

Publisher Series: International Library of Sociology

The world is cognitively territorialised so that on the datum of physical geographic knowledge, the world is recoded as a set of spaces and places which are infinitely shared with connotative characteristics and emotive associations. His work is important because he aims to show how space, when incorporated into social theory, might enable us to see beyond these binary divisions and better analyse how the social is constructed. A focus on the margins, on the space that Lefebvre would see as invisible within the spatial practice, reveals its construction.


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Through forms of transgression and resistance, sometimes by social actors but more often through the examples of textual representations, the relationships between these binary codes is made apparent. They are treated as separate, even if relational, sites of playful transgression which help to reveal the social order. A not-dissimilar approach to the analysis of margins, associated in this case with the nineteenth-century city, is put forward by Wilson She attempts to show, through an analysis of the culture of cities, how women have been perceived as the Other of the city, a position which facilitates new opportunities for women , ; see also Walkowitz ; Ryan Wilson considers how women have come to represent the Other of the city in terms of figures such as the prostitute or lesbian, and how the city comes to be seen as feminine through the promiscuity of crowds, consumption and temptation in male discourse.

Woman, for Wilson, becomes the uncertain figure of the Sphinx who inhabits the Other places of the city. As such, the city becomes not so much a place from which women are excluded, in the way that other feminist writers on the city have suggested see Wolff , but a place whose uncertain spaces offer sites of resistance for women.