2005 volume 23(2) pages 189 – 206
doi:10.1068/d360t

Cite as:
Collinge C, 2005, "The différance between society and space: nested scales and the returns of spatial fetishism" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 23(2) 189 – 206

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The différance between society and space: nested scales and the returns of spatial fetishism

Chris Collinge

Received 4 December 2003; in revised form 6 April 2004

Abstract. By using a framework of spatial categories to illuminate social change, scale analysis intersects with a series of arguments that have been put forward over the years regarding the relationship between society and space. The coherence of scale analysis and its contribution to our understanding of this relationship are examined here, with a focus particularly upon the influential writings of Swyngedouw. It is argued that these writings are haunted by a spatial fetishism that has deconstructive consequences, confounding the distinction between society and space upon which their composition depends. But this conclusion points (through a sort of 'spectral logic') towards a wider deconstruction, which suggests that the distinction between these terms or realms is itself the product of a kind of 'scaling'. Despite its centrality to the development of geographical thought, and its congruence with other dualisms such as culture/nature, the juxtaposition of society and space remains the unexamined ground of much contemporary writing. Recent efforts by feminists and others to rework the notion of 'space' and indeed of `society' would benefit from addressing these together in their articulation through the in-between-ness of scale.

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