Establishing Boundaries: A Conceptualisation for the Comparative Social Study of Built Environment Configurations

By Benjamin N. Vis.

Published by Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

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Article: Electronic $US5.00

It is readily acknowledged that the configuration of a built environment is shaped by the outer lines of the features it consists of. Yet, these boundary lines are not typically utilised in our theorisation of the built environment to further our social understanding of it. Studies of the built environment often originate in the study of cities: their most elaborate form. Rather than starting from conflated characterisations derived from urbanism, this paper presents a theory for studying built environment configurations by asking how they occur and how society is accommodated by them. This leads to two series of concepts (human being in the spatial world, and human being in the social world), which establish that boundary concepts are essential to the social study of built environment configurations, while they also retain the generality needed to enable comparative research.

Keywords: Built Environment, Boundaries, Urbanism, Sociality, Theory, Time

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp.15-30. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 807.829KB).

Benjamin N. Vis

PhD Candidate, School of Geography, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK

Benjamin N. Vis’s academic interests started out with archaeology, specifically in the Mesoamerican culture area. After completing a Masters degree at Leiden University, the Netherlands, Vis published work on constructing a social built environment theory (Built Environments, Constructed Societies, Sidestone Press, Leiden 2009), which now forms the basis for Vis’s PhD research in geography at the University of Leeds. This research pursues the interdisciplinary aim of creating a comparative (between places, cultures and time) approach to urbanisation, using overarching themes of space, sociality and built form in both archaeology and geography.