chapter  1
36 Pages

SPACE AND PLACE IN TWENTIETH-CENTURY PLANNING: AN ANALYTICAL FRAMEWORK AND AN HISTORICAL REVIEW

BySIMIN DAVOUDI, IAN STRANGE

As with terms like ‘society’ and ‘nature’, space is not a commonsense external background to human and social action. Rather, it is the outcome of a series of highly problematic temporary settlements that divide and connect things up into different kinds of collectives which are slowly provided with the means which render them durable and sustainable. (Thrift 2003: 95)

Across Europe, the latter part of the twentieth century is considered as being the era when place and territory regained prominence as the focus of policy attention (Le Gales 1998; Vigar et al. 2000). The rediscovery of place and space was triggered by and reflected major changes in the political economy of Europe and other advanced industrial societies. For economic geographers this transition was articulated as the restructuring of economic organisation from Fordist mass production to post-Fordist flexible specialisation (Jessop 1995; Piore and Sabel 1984), resulting in new cycles and patterns of space productions and consumptions. Within this context, place has become seen as something that ‘adds value’ to economic development. Place-quality is thus viewed as an asset to be drawn upon to ‘pin down’ footloose companies that are working in an increasingly competitive global market (Amin and Thrift 1995).