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Vom „Containerraum“ zur „entgrenzten“ Welt – Raumbilder als sozialwissenschaftliche Leitbilder

Author(s): W. Luutz

Journal: Social Geography Discussions
ISSN 1816-1499

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 179;
Date: 2006;
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From the "container'' to the "unlimited world'' – Spatial metaphors as social theoretical models This paper is concerned with the role of spatial metaphors in modern social sciences. I refer to the sociological thesis that it is necessary to transform the old interpretation of society as (national) "container'' into the new concept of "unlimited world'' in the age of globalization. There is a large degree of consent to those descriptions today. How ever, I want to draw attention to the social ontological preconditions of this sociological macro narration. I am especially interested in the spatial metaphors on which the common scientific conceptualization based on. One of the results is: A modern non-spatial organized sociological theory (for example Beck's theory of Welt-Risikogesellschaft) also needs the spatial language, but it uses the spatial metaphors unreflective. On the one hand Beck can not really destroy the container metaphor. On the other hand Beck ignores the distinction between the own sociological descriptions ("non-locale society'', "unlimited word'') and the complex social reality. In contrast to that theory Simmel needs in his spatial sociology a lot of spatial metaphors, e.g. social "band'', "thread'' or "circle''. How ever, he uses these metaphors in a distanced, reflective way. In his understanding the spatial language is of necessity insufficient but at the same time irreplaceable. Following Simmel the paper draws attention to three functions of spatial metaphors in the context of social sciences: 1. the structural role in the framing of the social subject, 2. the discriminating function, their role as marker in the scientific communication, 3. the bridging function, their relevance to the transformation of sociological basic knowledge into medial and political discourses. The conclusion of this investigation is: It is not possible to ignore the structural power of spatial metaphors in the social sciences. There fore we should remember the visual context of the sociological concept metaphors, especially "container'' or "unlimited world''. It is necessary to vitalize these metaphors as contingent metaphorical interpretations of the complex social world.
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