Introducing Spatial Justice

Watson, Sophie (2019). Introducing Spatial Justice. In: Watson, Sophie ed. Spatial Justice in the City. Space, Materiality and the Normative. Abingdon: Routledge, pp. 1–7.



What do we mean by spatial justice? Certainly it is a laudable concept and objective for a city, but what exactly is it and what strategies might be pursued to get there? At a straightforward level, the term connects notions of social justice with notions of space. Easy concepts though, these are not. Let us look back briefly at earlier debates. The concept of spatial justice came to prominence particularly in the work of Henri Lefebvre, and two geographers – Ed Soja and David Harvey – who in different ways saw the achievement of social justice as being realized and visible in space. In other words, social justice cannot abstractly be reached, since social relations take place in a particular space. Thus, the two terms for Soja cannot be disentangled since spatial relations are constitutive of, and constituted by, relations of social justice. At a pragmatic level, this has implications for planning, urban design, and other interventions aimed at tackling social inequality in the city.

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