The Social Production of Amman Space

By Deyala Tarawneh 0

“Consider the case of a city – a space which is fashioned, shaped and invested by social activities during a finite historical period. Is this city a work or a product?” – Lefebvre 1991, p.73

In current urban theory and contemporary discussions around Spatial Justice, understanding the significance of (the production of) space—or what the French philosopher Henri Lefebvre referred to as the reproduction of social relations of production—has been a central notion of the argument. Embracing everyday life and recognizing its implications in addition to generalizing industry and its relation to the city, discussions argue, contributed to the ‘urbanization of society’ understood as the transformation of ‘the city’ into ‘the urban’.

The motif of the production of space emphasizes that space is a social product, or alternately, a complex social construction, that impacts our spatial practices and perceptions. Accordingly, it calls for a shift from researching space to researching the processes of its production, which undertake the multiplicity of socially-produced space as a productive social practice and moreover, pays particular attention to the contradictions, conflicts and consequently, the political struggles of the urban space.

Certainly, the synthesis of Amman encompasses the different modes of production of space from the natural ‘absolute space’ to the more peculiar, collectively produced ‘social space’ mode of spatiality. Every society – and thus every mode of production— generates its particular space, a space for its own. However, to what extent is this complexity taken into consideration in the traditional planning processes or between the different stakeholders – particularly architects and urban designers and planners— involved in the decision-making process? And how are the socially-produced, multiplicity of spaces embraced and made productive?

Today, in Amman, urban planners fail to produce space, avant-garde models of urban designs that transform the physical space without grasping the social space are instead mushrooming throughout the city; hurdles that emphasize urban segregation and halt its organic unfolding.

The city cannot be understood as the assembly of people and things, rather as a peculiar spatial practice that escapes the traditional molds; therefore, the practice of urban planning in Amman demands a reevaluation, one that considers the complex socio-spatial particularity of the city and its intangible genesis.

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