Theories of Space in Social Sciences and Humanities

LE / Semester hours: 2.0 / ECTS 3.0

TISS Course: 280.909

***Prof. Dr. Sabine Knierbein, Visiting Professor Christian Reutlinger, and Prof. Dr. Simon Güntner (tbc)***

Learning outcomes

After successful completion of the course, students are able to …

  • theoretically ground planning approaches within theories of space
  • establish discursive connections between theories in the fields of planning, urban development, society, everyday life and theories of space
  • relate theories of space to approaches in the social sciences and humanities
  • draw linkages between approaches to theorize space, and every life and life words

Contents

The lecture provides an overview addressing contemporary theories of space, which are debated in the field of urban studies and sociology of space first and foremost against the background of current discussions in the social sciences and humanities through the lense of everyday life.

More precisely, social, cultural and politcal theorizations of space will be related to contemporary praxis of urban develpment, to planning approaches in different cities world wide and to planning theories.  These will be addressed by taking different conceptions of the city as a starting point.

Lecture Unit 0 Kick Off

Lecture Unit 1 Space, Place and Planning Theory

This lecture unit explains how theorizing space has always been central to poststructuralist perspectives that have identified planning as governmentality and which have traced basic shifts in planning theories and how they have addressed space in different eras.

Lecture Unit 2 Theories of Space and Housing (tba)

Lecture Unit 3 Everyday Life and The Public City

This lecture unit explains how theorizing space as relational public space has been formative for those accounts in the social sciences and humanities interested in the study of everyday life and lived space. It shows, how these thoughts have resonated also partly in planning theories 20 years ago, and states that planning theory is currently very much embracing critiques of everyday life and lived space in a decade of crises, disruption and urban unsettling.

Lecture Unit 4 Geographies of Encounter and The Ordinary City

This lecture unit emphasizes the ordinary and relational dimension of space as lived space characterized by difference. It addresses a related body of geographical thought focusing on geographies of encounter and connects these to ideas about ordinary cities as sites of ordinary planning.

Lecture Unit 5 Lived Space and The Embodied City

This lecture unit emphasizes the ordinary and relational dimension of space as lived space characterized by difference. It addresses a related body of geographical thought focusing on geographies of encounter and connects these to ideas about ordinary cities as sites of ordinary planning.

Lecture Unit 6 Global Urban Restructuring and the Insurgent City

This lecture unit involves with a body of literature that empirically track down patterns of global (urban) restructuring in different cities and which develop a conceptualization of resistance and insurgencies to add new perspectives into urban studies and planning theory. Conceptualizing space as always emerging and messy, ordinary and contested is at the heart of approaches focusing on insurgents and insurgencies.

Lecture Unit 7 Individualization and The Entrepreneurial City

This lecture unit highlights a key concept that has emerged in Western cities and that has rendered space as place of individuals, individualism and individualization. Especially market-oriented conceptions to theorize space and planning have highlighted the idea of individual freedom over (individual, collective) equality and have produced new entrepreneurial scripts for urban futures that until today remain highly contested due to their social, political, cultural and ecological shortcomings.

Lecture Unit 8 Urban Resistance and the Neoliberal City

This lecture unit highlights a key concept that has emerged in Western cities and that has rendered space as place of individuals, individualism and individualization. Especially market-oriented conceptions to theorize space and planning have highlighted the idea of individual freedom over (individual, collective) equality and have produced new entrepreneurial scripts for urban futures that until today remain highly contested due to their social, political, cultural and ecological shortcomings.

Lecture Unit 9 Urban Emancipation and the Post-Political City

This lecture unit delineates how theorizing space has always been central to the urban study of politics, the political and democracy.

Lecture Unit 10 Urban Studies and the Post-Colonial City

This lecture unit explores how theorizing space has always been central to postcolonial accounts in the field of urban studies and planning theory.

Lecture Unit 11 Urban Crises and the City of Care

This lecture unit addresses the pros and cons of a strictly crisis-centered reading of urban space and urban care debate particularly during the last decade. It introduces conceptions of space based on affect and opportunities for meaningful human and beyond-human encounters in space and offers some ideas how specific groups, e.g. people living with dementia, use everyday urban spaces, and how planning can learn from their practices and needs.

Lecture Unit 12 Closing and Retrospective – Theories of Space and Planning Theories

This lecture provides a concluding retrospective of all presented theories of space, city conceptions and planning theories. It will offer space for open question and to address new demands for theorizing space, planning and everyday life.

Teaching Methods

The lecture units also address methodological orientations from spatial and planning theories, international urban studies and sociology of space, which have founded or predetermined these respective approaches to spatial theory, or which originated in them. Fundamentally, the (inter)sectional relationship between planning and spatial theoretical methods is always reinforced through practices of interweaving and through the elaboration of positionality and points of view. Aspects of the climate crisis and climate change are to be reflected transversally through all units.

Students gain knowledge about possibilities and formats of empowerment and the promotion of social participation in planning theories underpinned by spatial theory, which make it possible to embed cultural, political, ecological, economic and social dimensions of space in concrete planning processes. Students are thus also strengthened in their implementation skills.

Examination modalities

Individual essay or group exam

Additional Information

The courses mainly address master students (and late bachelor or early doctoral students) from planning and architecture. We explicitly welcome students coming from other Viennese universities in disciplines relating to urban studies such as educational studies, migration studies, urban design, geography, (work, urban) sociology, political science, landscape architecture, cultural studies (‘Mitbeleger’ at TU Wien). The course language is English. We support students’ active participation in debates and interactive teaching formats. We encourage students to bring in and develop their own ideas and critical perspectives. We seek to create an international level of debate and exchange and welcome students from all countries and cultures. Just contact us (info@skuor.tuwien.ac.at).