chapter  11
12 Pages

The Spatial Registers of Justice

ByRichard Patterson

In the ‘Introduction’ to Social Justice and the City, David Harvey stated his ambition as that of ‘healing the breach in our thought in what appear to be two distinctive and irreconcilable modes of analysis’, that is, of social process and spatial form. He also referred to certain unsustainable dichotomies, including for example ‘fact/value’, ‘subject/object’, ‘public/private’, and to what he considered to be the methodological error of treating ‘things’ as possessing ‘an identity independent of human perception and action’ located in (a thing called) space.1 But this ‘space’, Harvey argued, is of two types, sociological and geographical, each with its own exclusive methodological precepts and structure, such that it was methodological exclusivity that prevented sociological analysis from recognising the ‘profound eect (of spatial conguration) upon spatial processes on the one hand, and the inability of geographers, architects, and urban planners, on the other, to inform their formal manipulation of space with anything other than mere intuition’, on the other. As such, it was his view, the implementation of social control through the agency of planning and other forms of spatial development, was not subject to critical analysis of the competing social factors it concerned, nor of the varying lived experiences it eected. Harvey proposed that conceptions of geographical space were in fact themselves constituted in social process and were not therefore objective, universal conditions, independent of human perception and action, etc, but intrinsically interest laden and not neutral grounds against which to measure ‘objective’ social truths. This led to his declared intention, to establish a new ‘ontology’ of space, one encompassing the sociological and geographical, one that provided a basis for just social actions.