Spatiality and urban redevelopment movements

David Wilson, Dennis Grammenos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This report examines some of the salient relations between space and the recent absence of effective urban development movements in the United States. Humanly constructed space has immense ramifications for redevelopment movements, with these influence now being explicated by geographers and social scientists. But contrary to one interpretation of this essay, space does not intrinsically retard redevelopment movements. As Soja (1989) noted, space can be produced under immensely different conditions, within different social organization, and in multiple ways. It is a human construction that can enable or constrict the disadvantaged depending on its content and usage. Its influence, not surprisingly, depends on the people and forces that craft it, interpret it, act on it. But in our cities today, space has been deeply politicized by capital. Revealing this, of course, has enormous possibilities for galvanizing counter response. To problematize space is to problematize the everyday. To make this contentious is to implicate power in the foundation of lived worlds. But the dilemma is that space's influence is not easily comprehended. People bounded in their imaginings by traditional social-spatial separating often see space as passive and fixed. Space is most commonly seen as an innocuous lived-in domain that severs its connections to ideologies, politics, knowledge, and opportunities to mobilize (McDowell, 1994; Dear, 1997). Space is too often reduced to a catchment for an evolving social life, seen as a separate autonomous realm that masks its constructive capacities. The irony in this, of course, is the abstraction of space from the forces it so poignantly constructs. Because of this, space continues to be a potent conservative tool in American cities today. To begin crafting more humane cities, as many are now realizing, this force needs to be exposed and brought to public light.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-370
Number of pages10
JournalUrban Geography
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Urban Studies


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