The politics of space and place shapes how people interact with the places they inhabit and how they perceive themselves within their communities. Politics may affect the environment in which people live in a variety of ways, including resource distribution, power distribution, and infrastructure construction. The most important political debates of our day revolve around issues of the politics of place and space, of who is allowed there and what they are allowed to do, from the national border to the wire fence, from the commercialization of property to the exclusion and deportation of oppressed peoples.   

The Effect of Politics of Space On People - Sheet1
The Politics of Space and Place _©HASTA

The Concept of Space and Place

The Effect of Politics of Space On People - Sheet2
The experience of ‘space’ _©World Architecture

The word “space” has a wide variety of meanings connected to these many methods, as is evident from dictionary definitions. Space is one of those complicated ideas that have been treated from several perspectives as well as various levels, including philosophical, scientific, and social ones. The experience of space, or the values attached through facts of social and personal existence, must not be confused with the concept of space as defined and developed by philosophers and scientists, and from an epistemological perspective, one must be careful not to equate space as a feature of the physical (tangible) world with “social space” (Kuper, 1972). 

The Effect of Politics of Space On People - Sheet3
The interactions between ‘place’ and ‘people’ _©Frontiers

On the other hand, “place” is the subjective experience of space that is shaped by a community’s culture, history, and memories. “Place” is socially built and operational, involving interactions between individuals and groups, institutionalised land uses, political and economic decisions, and the language of representation. Although this definition already emphasises the need for an interdisciplinary approach, there are some gaps in the state of the art of research. The meaning and identity of place are infrequently discussed in the literature on place-making, especially by authors looking at global effects on places (Masey, 2003). Global processes are perceived as merely influencing locales physically and as having nothing to do with the constantly shifting meanings of places.

Political Consequences

The Effect of Politics of Space On People - Sheet4
Political consequences affecting ‘space and place’ _©SCOTUS

There are several ways that politics may affect space and place. The allocation of resources is one of the most important. Governments frequently have a limited budget and must choose where to spend it. The communities receiving funds may be significantly impacted by this choice. For instance, people of an affluent community will profit from enhanced infrastructure and services if the government makes significant investments there, as opposed to those who live in a disadvantaged neighbourhood, who might not receive the same level of investment. In metropolitan settings, this can exacerbate the gap between those who have and those who do not. 

Another way that politics may alter space and place is through the distribution of power. Decisions made by those in authority can affect the entire community. For example, a government may choose to construct a new highway that passes through a neighbourhood, which could have a big effect on the locals. People who are affected by decisions may not have a voice in the process because it is frequently opaque. This can affect people’s mental health and general well-being by causing them to feel helpless and lacking in agency.

The Impacts of the Design and Environment

Public transport inequality _©Institute of Transport and Development Policy

In addition to politics, infrastructure design has a significant effect on how space and place are shaped. Infrastructure is frequently created by governments to fulfil the requirements of the majority, which might leave some areas behind. If a city’s transit infrastructure is built on vehicles, individuals without access to cars or who reside in places without public transport may find themselves cut off from the rest of the city. This may limit their access to opportunities and services, perpetuating a cycle of poverty and inequality. 

Additionally, the politics of space and place affect how individuals see themselves in their local communities. Public places, including parks and plazas, may influence how people interact with one another through their design. If a public area is made to feel friendly and inclusive, it may inspire individuals to interact. On the other hand, if a public area is intended to be exclusive or scary, it may deter people from utilising it, which can result in a sense of loneliness and detachment. Politics may affect the social environment in addition to influencing the physical environment. Resources, power, and infrastructure design may all affect how a community’s social dynamics function. A community’s political environment may change as a result of more active political engagement.


In conclusion, people’s lives are significantly impacted by the politics of space and place. It influences how people connect with their surroundings and how they view themselves in their societies. the distribution of electricity, the design, and the allocation of resources. The politics of space and place can promote or undermine people’s sense of agency and empowerment by shaping the opportunities for participation and decision-making.


  1. Certomà Chiara, Clewer, N. and Elsey, D. (2012) The politics of space and place. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  2. De Backer, M., Dijkema, C. and Hörschelmann, K. (2019) “Preface: The everyday politics of public space,” Space and Culture, 22(3), pp. 240–249. Available at:
  3. Elden, S. (2007) “There is a politics of space because space is political,” Radical Philosophy Review, 10(2), pp. 101–116. Available at:
  4. Fourcade, M., Lande, B. and Schofer, E. (2016) “Political space and the space of polities: Doing politics across nations,” Poetics, 55, pp. 1–18. Available at:
  5. Hildebrandt, V. and Milić, P. (2017) Why Political Space Matters, 4CITIES. Available at: (Accessed: April 26, 2023). 
  6. Kuper, H. (1972) “The Language of Sites in the Politics of Space,” American Anthropologist, 74(3), pp. 411–425. Available at:
  7. Tonboe, J.C. (1986) “On the Political Importance of Space,” Acta Sociologica, 29(1), pp. 13–30. Available at: 

Audrey Kianjaya is a graduate architect and urban planner who is currently pursuing a career as an architectural researcher and writer. She aspires to make a positive impact through her writing and design, earning her project the title of “People’s Choice” from the Regen Dining Competition held in 2020.