Social spatial structure

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A socio-spatial structure (also: socio-spatial structure ; socio-spatial organization; socio-spatial development ) presents itself as a superposition of social structure and space . 'Space' in the sense of socio-spatial structure never means something static, but rather different expressions of spatial developments driven by social decisions (e. B. through residential developments, land consolidations , transport infrastructures , green corridors ). Particular interest in the description of socio-spatial structures is therefore the " built environment " (Engl .: built environment ). The social structure describes the arrangement or stratification of its members resulting from the respective form of society .

Human actions are (also) central to shaping the socio-spatial structure (see also social action ). Most sociologists assume that the social structure of a society remains decisive for social change ; and thus also for the shaping of socio-spatial structure.

Political, historical and social conditions of socio-spatial structure

The British human geographer Doreen Massey noted (taking into account the studies of Henri Lefebvre ) on the relationship between space / spatiality and the social:

"With that, the 1970s aphorism that space is socially constructed was added to the other side of the coin in the 1980s, namely that the social is also constructed spatially. And that makes a difference. In other words and in the most extensive formulation that society is necessarily constructed spatially, and that this fact - the spatial organization of society - is relevant to how it works, but if spatial organization is relevant to how society works and how it changes, then space and spatiality are Instead of being an area of ​​paralysis, involved in the production of history and thus (...) potentially political. "

The British-Canadian geographer Derek Gregory put it: " The production of space is not an incidental by-product of social life but a moment intrinsic to its conduct and constitution ... " The German urban sociologists Hartmut Häußermann and Walter Siebel described "social spatial structure" as follows:

"A city forms a social space. Its social-spatial structure is the result of complex processes, in the course of which the various social groups and milieus find or are assigned their place in the city. Market processes play just as much a role as power processes, individual or group preferences as well historical developments. "

Many aspects of the socio-spatial structure only come into view through historical perspectives. Modern history takes on such a dynamic and social understanding of space .

Aspects of socio-spatial structure (selection)

  • An important aspect of the socio-spatial structure results from the distribution of the (socially pre-structured) residents over the (spatially pre-structured) housing stock. Neither is static, but a product of socio-economic processes. When controlling the housing plays housing policy an important role.
  • Another aspect is the spatial proximity (or the loss of this proximity) between members of different social classes. The socio-spatial structure can promote exclusion , but also social inclusion .
  • The construction of gender and space is reflected in the socio-spatial structure of a society.
  • The socio-spatial structure in the cities is also influenced by the attractiveness (or lack of attractiveness) of the urban environs and rural areas .
  • In addition to the economy and the state, civil society actors also exert an influence on socio-spatial structures. The intercultural community gardens that have been established for a number of years can be named as examples of civil society engagement . These gardens make the social, cultural and ecological potential of today's urban society tangible. Progressive climate change ( climate protection ) and migration (integration / inclusion) are the boundary conditions for this appropriation of public space .

The scientific examination of socio-spatial structures

The connection between (urban) 'space' and social structures has been studied in sociology , especially urban sociology , since the beginning of the 20th century at the latest . Newer sub-disciplines within sociology that (also) deal with socio-spatial structures are the sociology of space and the sociology of architecture . The scientific-empirical examination of the social-spatial structure is also looking for the scientific disciplines: human geography , social geography , social ecology , social pedagogy / social work ( social space orientation ), history and spatial research .

These subject-specific approaches to “ social space ” are to be distinguished from the term “social space” of the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu . Bourdieu makes a clear distinction between physical and social space. However, Bourdieu also concludes: "The social space tends to be more or less strictly reflected in the physical space in the form of a certain distributional arrangement of actors and properties."

Social spatial structure in (communal) statistics, planning and social work

Municipal statistics are increasingly defining statistical areas as “social spaces”. For these statistical areas, area boundaries below the boundaries of a district are usually defined on the basis of social characteristics. These social spaces serve different actors for different goals. For example, conflicts of interest between social planners and social workers are described:

"Anyone who plans and is responsible for the allocation and financing of infrastructure sees the social space differently than those who primarily focus on the needs and development opportunities of the people living there. For social workers who are more interested in the social relationships of the residents, for example Exact territorial boundaries are often of secondary importance. For them, the social space is primarily an area in which people organize their lives and in which they should find the necessary institutions in everyday life. For social planners, the physical shape of the space is of great importance, they draw exact Boundaries and compare social spaces with each other and with the whole of the local authority. For them, the social space is a container for infrastructure or for social programs, the effect of which must then also be checked in the social space grid. "

At the local administrative level, it is often not disputed that the socio-spatial structure is mapped, but rather what needs for action arise for which social groups.

See also


  • Derek Gregory, John Urry (Eds.): Social Relations and Spatial Structures . Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke 1985, ISBN 0-333-35404-4 .
  • Jörg Gutberger: People, space and social structure. Social structure and social space research in the “Third Reich” , Münster: LIT ²1999, ISBN 3-8258-2852-2 .
  • Hartmut Häußermann : Social spatial structure and the process of exclusion: neighborhood effects . In: News sheet on urban and regional sociology . tape 14 , no. 1 , 1999, p. 7-18 .
  • Ruth Becker: Space: Feminist criticism of city and space . In: Ruth Becker / Beate Kortendiek (eds.): Handbook women and gender research. 2nd, expanded and updated edition, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften 2008, pp. 798–811, ISBN 978-3-531-16154-9 .
  • Alexander Hamedinger: Socio -spatial polarization in cities: Is “neighborhood management” a suitable urban planning answer to this challenge? In: SWS-Rundschau (42nd year), issue 1/2002, pp. 122-138, Vienna, PDF file in the portal
  • Antje Seidel-Schulze, Jan Dohnke, Hartmut Häußermann: Segregation, concentration, polarization - socio-spatial development in German cities 2007-2009 , Difu-Impusle 4, 2012;
  • Daniel Fuhrhop: Welcome City: Where refugees live and cities come alive. Oekom Verlag, Munich 2016 (licensed edition for the Federal Agency for Civic Education, Bonn 2017), ISBN 978-3-7425-0036-6 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Doreen Massey: Politics and Space / Time, published in 1992 under the title Politics and Space / Time in: New Left Review , Issue 196, quoted. after the translation by Boris Michel in: Bernd Belina, Boris Michel (Hrsg.): Raumproduktionen. Contributions from Radical Geography. An interim balance . Münster: Westfälisches Dampfboot 2007, p. 116f.
  2. Derek Gregory: Geographical Imaginations . Cambridge, Mass. 1994, p. 414.
  3. Hartmut Häußermann, Walter Siebel: Stadtsoziologie. An introduction. With the collaboration of Jens Wurtzbacher . Campus, Frankfurt / M. / New York 2004, p. 139.
  4. Pierre Bourdieu: Physical, social and appropriated physical space . Translated from the French by Bernd Schwibs. In: Martin Wentz (ed.) City spaces. Campus Verlag, Frankfurt am Main 1991, pp. 25 - 34 (here: p. 26).
  5. Johannes Schnurr: Small-scale communal education management: why communal education management needs a socio-spatial perspective . In: Magdalena Bienek, Bettina Suthues (Hrsg.): Municipal education management and social space: small-scale data, planning and networking. Transfer agency for municipal education management NRW, Institute for Social Work, Münster / W. 2017, p. 6.