Preliminaries on Place and Theory

The breakdown of theoretical approaches to place listed below are rough. That is, few thinkers will fit unambiguously into these categories (and indeed, it is rare that any categorization for any purpose is neat). However, the fact that the categories are rough could mean one of two different things: 1. The categories are not as well thought out as we would like, or 2. The people who do not fit well into one of the categories either have to account for their use of approaches that are not reducible to each other, or they have just ignored the fact that the approaches do not fit easily together.


The categories themselves are pairs of contrasts:


1. The phenomenological & hermeneutical, and the symbolic & structural, are related as "inner" and "outer". Specifically (and again, roughly), they deal with the
location of the meaning of place.

2. The social constructivist & Marxian, and the psychological & causal, are related as "after" and "before". Specifically (and again roughly), they deal with the question of how place is produced, or what it produces.

But we can find another relationship, this time one of similarity. This has to do with how we assume place is related to the self.

1. The phenomenological & hermeneutical, and the psychological & causal, are related. Both assume that place or space tell us something about ourselves, that knowing about place really means knowing about the self.


2. The social constructivist & Marxian, and the symbolic & structural, are related. Both assume that knowing about place is a textual affair, located outside of the self. The self is implied by place, but not understood directly.