Comparing Actors and Scales. Methodological Perspectives From a Political Sociology of the Refiguration of Spaces
Keywords:figurational sociology, comparison, sociology of space, spatial analysis, scale, refiguration of spaces, collective actors, Henri Lefebvre, Norbert Elias
In this article, I translate the analysis of the production of space as a social process into a processual methodology sensitive to its political aspects. This requires taking actors as well as the different socio-spatial logics into account. One of the main transformations since the 1970s—the historical period under scrutiny in the analysis of the refiguration of spaces—is that of re-scaling. This means that the relationship between socially meaningful geographic arenas (global/worldwide, national, regional, metropolitan, urban, local, bodily), and thus the (hierarchical) order of spatial scales as a whole, has been changing. In order to investigate the diachronic process of refiguration, I have therefore developed a multi-actor and multi-scalar approach. My methodological contribution starts from the inquiry into the socio-theoretical dimension of scale. I do so by asking what sociological analysis can learn from the (mostly geographical) scale debate, and, conversely, what a sociological contribution to this debate might look like. The empirical context from which this intervention stems is research on non-profit and non-governmental organizations in housing and asylum politics. Methodologically, two distinct approaches of social theory are discussed here respectively: that of Norbert ELIAS's figurational sociology, and that of Henri LEFEBVRE's theory of space.
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Copyright (c) 2021 Johanna Hoerning
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