This course has outlined a framework of critical spatial thinking, drawn from a variety of traditions of spatial and urban theory in the social sciences. The framework is intended to serve as an analytical device for investigating the key questions raised when presented with a pressing urban issue or a spatial problem. It is based on a threefold understanding of the problematisations to which definitions of the urban are a response:
- The urban represents a complex of issues, problems and objects which generate contention, gathering together myriad indirect consequences that are generated both locally and from afar.
- The urban is a field where the diversity and interconnectedness of effects operate as a seedbed for issue recognition. The recursiveness of urban life is also important in the formation of signs and symbols that can represent purposes and help anticipate consequences. These objects of recognition and intervention are also the medium out of which political subjectivities can be enhanced and people can learn to be affected.
- The urban remains the site of institutional architectures that might be useful in the development of further democratising impulses, either through challenge and alternative institutions or through further democratisation of institutions that already exist.
This framework is meant to help you structure the further investigation of an issue or a problem. It should provide avenues of enquiry more than answers, helping you to pinpoint the things to look for and the questions to pursue as you seek to understand the issues involved in making sense of contemporary challenges of ‘changing cities’ and the ‘urbanisation of responsibility’.