Space: Complex and Contested

picture of a wide paved walkway along the estuary showing a bike rider, a seat and grass.The notions of space and place can be confusing – they are words used interchangeably and to most people mean the same thing – a place to play is the same as a space to play. But to geographers, planners and urban designers, they are not the same thing. Rob Imrie writes an interesting essay on “Space” in Keywords in Disability Studies.  He focuses on the people who are left out of spaces, and who have spaces and places created just for “them”. He writes:

“However space is defined, it is intrinsic to human existence and, for Newton (1689),the fundamental element of space as place is that “part of space which a body takes up” (also, see Merleau-Ponty, 1962). The human body is always emplaced and its placement is conditioned, in part, by the social content and context of a place. Thus,the impaired body has, historically, been constructed as not normal, unsightly, and‘out of place’ in everyday environments.”

The essay can be downloaded from