Appropriation and dispossession by space

Bidragets oversatte titel: Tilegnelse og forarmelse af det fysiske rum

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskningpeer review


In his analysis of contemporary social suffering Bourdieu explicitly summarizes his comprehension of the relations between social-, symbolic- and physical space in his analysis of site effects. He briefly outlines a model of the relations between these spaces by making a distinction between place and position. Briefly, he defines place as a point in physical space, the location of agents (or objects such as housing estates) and their distances to other agents and localities. More specifically place can be defines as the extent, volume or bulk which is taken up in physical space, and by the distribution of peoples and assets (capital, resources, goods, services, facilities) in this space in and around the specific place. Position must be understood relationally as position in social space, which the given site occupies. That is as rank in the social order. Position can be defined by the properties of the people occupying the given site that situates them in social space vis-a-vis other positions. This way any site also becomes a more or less spontaneous fuzzy dual reading or symbolization of both its physicality and the people occupying the given site. Based on his relational thinking and the above distinctions between place and position this paper outlines an empirical model analyzing 87 neglected housing estates in Denmark using (S)MCA. The analysis casts light on a number of homologies between physical space and social space. That enables us to comprehend physical space as a multidimensional space akin to social space. Its principal dimension being 'volume of capital' and its secondary dimension being a chiastic opposition between ‘consumption of space’ that is volume of space occupied and the ‘concentration of assets’ understood as the distribution of social and symbolic goods and assets in and around the given neglected housing estate. Based on this analysis it is discussed how we should supplement Bourdieu’s discussions of the 'appropriation of space' and Wacquant’s concept of territorial stigmatization with a perspective on how social groups unable to appropriate a space of their own any are being concentrated in spaces which are dispossessed socially and symbolically by which these groups becomes dispossessed by space. There are two advantages of this model. By moving beyond the simplified distinction between dependent and independent variables, the model allows for an empirically robust conceptualization of the differences between neglected housing estates based on the difference social mechanisms producing and reproducing these socio-spatial configurations. Secondly countering commonsense folk, media and political conceptualizations of neglected housing estates it allows for a more comprehensive sociological reading that allows for making more explicit the fuzzy relation between the three spaces.
Bidragets oversatte titelTilegnelse og forarmelse af det fysiske rum
Publikationsdato4 jul. 2016
Antal sider16
StatusUdgivet - 4 jul. 2016
BegivenhedBritish Sociological Association: Bourdieu study group conference Bristol 2016: The contemporary relevance of the work of Pierre Bourdieu - University of Bristol , Bristol, Storbritannien
Varighed: 4 jul. 20166 sep. 2016


KonferenceBritish Sociological Association: Bourdieu study group conference Bristol 2016
LokationUniversity of Bristol


  • Bourdieu
  • Appropriation of space
  • spcae

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