Sociospatial perspective

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The socio-spatial perspective in urbanism research addresses how built infrastructure and society interact. It assumes that social space operates as both a product and a producer of changes in the metropolitan environment.[1]

In the socio-spatial perspective, built environment is intrinsically meaningful: It has its particular “semiotics” that tell about policy, culture, society, economy, etc., and about security as well.

Interaction of urban structures and society

On the bottom line, urban structure has an impact on social processes, and this needs to be addressed in strategic urban planning.[2] The school of “New Urbanism” has referred to this as the “socio-spatial perspective”. This means that urban space and society interact.

Security aspects

  • Design features of urban infrastructure influence citizens’ perception of the risk, that this infrastructure is at, as well as the general perception of criticality of that infrastructure.
  • Critics: Urbanisation studies strongly argue that differences between actual and perceived security are not influenced by the design of built environment, but that they mainly are mass media constructs. The perception of (in)security in cities rather depends [...] upon the substantial amount and constant flow of information that urban residents receive from many sources.[3]
  • Many examples of community-enhancing constructions represent an “elitism of architectural choice[4] that may in the end increase societal gaps and perceptions of fear, as well as actual insecurity.

Approaches how to address sociospatial security aspects

  • Consider interactions of society with urban space;
  • Consider social needs;
  • Involve citizens in planning projects (citizen participation);
  • Integrate society into urban planning and into urbanity;
  • Integrate approaches and findings from social sciences and humanities.

Related subjects

Footnotes and references

  1. Gottdiener M., Hutchison R.: The New Urban Sociology. 4th ed. Boulder, CO: Westview/Gottdiener/Hutchinson, 2011, 394; see also 20.
  2. Hannigan J.: Fantasy City: Pleasure and Profit in the Post-modern Metropolis. London: Routledge, 1998.
  3. United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT): Enhancing urban safety and security. London: Earthscan, 2007, 19. Retrieved from:
  4. Gottdiener M./Hutchison R: The New Urban Sociology. 4th ed. Boulder, CO: Westview/Gottdiener/Hutchinson, 2011, 331.