For Space, Paperback
4 out of 5 (2 ratings)


In this book, Doreen Massey makes an impassioned argument for revitalising our imagination of space.

She takes on some well-established assumptions from philosophy, and some familiar ways of characterising the 21st century world, and shows how they restrain our understanding of both the challenge and the potential of space.

The way we think about space matters. It inflects our understandings of the world, our attitudes to others, our politics.

It affects, for instance, the way we understand globalisation, the way we approach cities, the way we develop, and practice, a sense of place.

If time is the dimension of change then space is the dimension of the social: the contemporaneous co-existence of others.

That is its challenge, and one that has been persistently evaded.

For Space pursues its argument through philosophical and theoretical engagement, and through telling personal and political reflection.

Doreen Massey asks questions such as how best to characterise these so-called spatial times, how it is that implicit spatial assumptions inflect our politics, and how we might develop a responsibility for place beyond place. This book is 'for space' in that it argues for a reinvigoration of the spatiality of our implicit cosmologies.

For Space is essential reading for anyone interested in space and the spatial turn in the social sciences and humanities.

Serious, and sometimes irreverent, it is a compelling manifesto: for re-imagining spaces for these times and facing up to their challenge.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 234 pages, 1, black & white illustrations
  • Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Human geography
  • ISBN: 9781412903622



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Review by

"For the truth is that you can never simply 'go back', to home or to anywhere else. When you get 'there' the place will have moved on just as you yourself will have changed. And this of course is the point. For to open up 'space' to this kind of imagination means thinking time and space as mutually imbricated and thinking both of them as the product of interrelations. You can't go back in space-time. To think that you can is to deprive others of their ongoing independent stories. It may be 'going back home', or imagining regions as backward, as needing to catch up, or just taking that holiday in some 'unspoilt, timeless' spot. The point is the same. You can't go back. You can't hold places still. What you can do is meet up with others, catch up with where another's history has got to 'now', but where that 'now' is itself constituted by nothing more than--precisely--that meeting-up (again)."

Review by

As several of the reviews have already mentioned, this book is written primarily for human geographers. Perhaps the ideal audience for this book is the human geographer with a chip on his / her shoulder and a love for complicating our notions of space. The book has many themes which develop at different paces and at different depths, but as the title suggests this is a book primarily “for space” -- which means recapturing the challenge of space and the potential wonder it can inspire. For Massey, many of the dominant discourses of the time purposely avoid the challenge of space “by convening spatial multiplicity into temporal sequence; by understanding the spatial as depthless instaneity; by imagining ‘the global’ as somehow always ‘up there’, ‘out there’, certainly somewhere else.” For Massey, these discourses avoid the challenge of space, the challenge of multiplicity, and the relational possibilities of space. This book can be harsh reading at times for outsiders to human geography. A major reason is that whereas other books -- particularly popular books on globalization and world affairs -- attempt to tame space and difference, this book unleashes them. Unfortunately, the book also unleashes a new language of geography that can be difficult to process as times. To take but one example, the term “coevalness” plays an important role in Massey’s work. The term stands for the recognition and respect in situations of mutual implication and for the author is the precondition for a true dialogue between different partners. Perhaps the most important work this book does is in challenging our current understandings of globalization, in particular the mystification of globalization as emanating from somewhere else. Massey effectively shows how modern discourses of globalization lend to mystification and aspatial thinking. To counter this notion, Massey locates the US and UK, and London in particular, as places where globalization is produced (101). Globalization discourse also too frequently imagines countries as at different stages of development in a single development path. For Massey, to imagine places in this way is to perform epistemic violence on the differences of the world and their potentials. For Massey, reclaiming space also means reclaiming the possibilities of “multiplicity.” The book is, in all likelihood, a masterpiece of human geography. However, for a human geography outsider like me, the book was at times off putting. My instinct throughout the book was that -- in spite of Massey’s normative commitments to complexity -- the points she was trying to make were in fact relatively simple and could be communicated in much less complicated language. This instinct was strengthened by my experience with the chapter entitled “Aspatial Globalization,” which was by far the clearest and most compelling chapter of the book.

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