“Talk is mainly perceived as a phenomenon anchored in time. Temporality, sequentiality, segments, events, turns, and episodes: As these terms suggest, when people think of the conceptual categories of talk, they mainly think of time-based categories (Mehan, 1985 Mehan, H. (1985). The structure of classroom discourse. In T. A. Van Dijk (Ed.), Handbook of discourse analysis (Vol. 3, pp. 115–131). London, UK: Academic Press.). The literature on talk in learning discussions has not given sufficient consideration to the notions of space and place and has not sufficiently differentiated between time and space.
Space is a leading metaphor in the learning sciences. Following Bakhtin (1981 Bakhtin, M. M. (1981). The dialogic imagination. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press.), Wegerif (2007 Wegerif, R. (2007). Dialogic, educational and technology: Expanding the space of learning. New York, NY: Springer-Verlag.) used the term dialogical space; Erduran, Simon, and Osborne (2004 Erduran, S., Simon, S., & Osborne, J. (2004). Tapping into argumentation: Developments in the application of Toulmin’s argument pattern for studying science discourse. Science Education, 88(6), 915–933. doi:10.1002/(ISSN)1098-237X) used the term argumentative space; Mercer and Littleton (2007 Mercer, N., & Littleton, K. (2007). Dialogue and the development of children’s thinking: A sociocultural approach. London, UK: Routledge.) used the intersubjective space; Chin and Osborne (2010 Chin, C., & Osborne, J. (2010). Supporting argumentation through students’ questions: Case studies in science classrooms. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 19(2), 230–284. doi:10.1080/10508400903530036) used the terms questioning space and negotiation space; and Schwarz and Asterhan (2011 Schwarz, B. B., & Asterhan, C. S. C. (2011). E-moderation of synchronous discussions in educational settings: A nascent practice. Journal of the Learning Sciences, 20(3), 395–442. doi:10.1080/10508406.2011.553257) used the term discussion space. The literature is replete with the term space, yet its definition needs to be clarified.
The term space has historically held multiple, sometimes contradictory, meanings. For the atomists, space was the place of the void in which the atoms move and collide (Berryman, 2010 Berryman, S. (2010). Democritus. Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/democritus/in). Space was perceived as infinite, as is the quantity of atoms. This dual infinity is the mechanism behind the possibility of movement. In Aristotle’s Physics, place rather than space functioned as the actual container of the thing. Despite this difference, both Aristotle and Democritus perceived space and place as ontologically substantive. It was only later, first in Theophrastus’s Physics and then in Leibniz’s writings, that space was understood as an organizational order projected on reality by the subject (Casey, 1997 Casey, E. S. (1997). The fate of place: A philosophical history. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.). This view was more fully articulated in Kant’s account of space as a transcendental intuition that basically constitutes the mind.
In his seminal work The Production of Space, Lefebvre (1967/1991 Lefebvre, H. (1991). The production of space. Oxford, UK: Blackwell. (Original work published 1967)) highlighted the importance of studying space as a specific, socially produced order that results from human activity. From this standpoint, space is the outcome of interactions, and the ideational aspect of space—the concrete concept of the space people have—follows and mirrors material relations. Mondada (2013 Mondada, L. (2013). Interactional space and the study of embodied talk-in-interaction. In P. Auer, M. Hilpert, A. Stukenbrock, & B. Szmrecsanyi (Eds.), Space in language and linguistics: Geographical, interactional and cognitive perspectives (pp. 247–275). Berlin, Germany: De Gruyter.) relied on Goffman’s (1961 Goffman, E. (1961). Encounters: Two studies in the sociology of interaction. Indianapolis, IN: Bobbs-Merrill.) idea of a “situated activity system” to elaborate the notion of interactional space in face-to-face talk:
The interactional space is constituted through the situated, mutually adjusted changing arrangements of the participants’ bodies within space, as they are made relevant by the activity they are engaged in, their mutual attention and their common focus of attention, the objects they manipulate and the way in which they coordinate in joint action. (Mondada, 2013 Mondada, L. (2013). Interactional space and the study of embodied talk-in-interaction. In P. Auer, M. Hilpert, A. Stukenbrock, & B. Szmrecsanyi (Eds.), Space in language and linguistics: Geographical, interactional and cognitive perspectives (pp. 247–275). Berlin, Germany: De Gruyter., p. 250)
This interactional space is constantly being (re)established and transformed within the activity. The notion of interactional space is intended to contribute both to an interactional conceptualization of space and to a spatial conceptualization of interaction. In her research program, Mondada relates her approach to space to the sequential and temporal organization of talk and embodied action in order to show how interactional space unfolds moment by moment within the coordinated adjustment of various simultaneous streams of action and sets of multimodal resources.”
“Although Lefebvre’s ideas about socially produced spaces were not generated within the discipline of geography, they resemble its accepted definition for place (Tuan, 1977 Tuan, Y. F. (1977). Space and place: The perspective of experience. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.). His distinction between space and place draws on their dialectical relations; people tend to think about one in the light of the other: Whereas space is general, place is personal and implies a sense of belonging. Space signals movement, whereas place is a site of stability and immobility.
Space could turn into place as a result of actions that transpire within it in a process of placemaking: “the set of social, political and material processes by which people iteratively create and recreate the experienced geographies in which they live” (Pierce, Martin, & Murphy, 2011 Pierce, J., Martin, D. B., & Murphy, J. T. (2011). Relational place-making: The networked politics of place. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 36(1), 54–70. doi:10.1111/j.1475-5661.2010.00411.x, p. 54). Places, then, are sites of history and identity. In order for a place to become a meaningful location, it has to be subject to human relations; it has to absorb a degree of agency, including emotions (Agnew, 1987 Agnew, J. (1987). The United States in world economy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.). Placemaking actions are manifestations of agency. They are attempts to assert identity or to localize—personalize or socialize—space (Creswell, 2004 Creswell, T. (2004). Space: A short introduction. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.). Respectively, the private and the public, the two pillars of political philosophy, are both places; a great deal of agency is invested in them.
The relation between placemaking and political becoming is mediated through the notion of ownership. Placemaking implies a growing sense of ownership toward the transformed site. Ownership is sensed in two ways: through the iterative actions needed in order to turn space into place and through projecting ownership objects and ownership signifiers, also known as self-directed identity claims (Gosling, Ko, Mannarelli, & Morris, 2002 Gosling, S., Ko, S. J., Mannarelli, T., & Morris, M. E. (2002). A room with a que: Personality judgments based on offices and bedrooms. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 82(3), 379–398. doi:10.1037/0022-35184.108.40.2069), on space and reclaiming it in this way. For example, with regard to a street, ownership could be sensed by fencing off part of it and putting up a sign with a family’s name, which might even lead to the action-invested place being treated as home. Later in this article, we develop the connection between placemaking and political agency.
This idea of ownership is in close accordance with Aristotle’s notion of having. In his Metaphysics (Delta), Aristotle (1971 Aristotle. (1971). Metaphysics (Books Gamma, Delta and Epsilon). Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press.) defined possession as a mediated act (praxis) or movement between the proprietor and the thing. The Greek word for possession is hexis. The word can also be described as a qualification that originates from practice and habituation. The physical dimension of the process of hexis is reflected in the Latin translation of the concept, the habitus, these days so familiarly associated with Bourdieu (1977/2013 Bourdieu, P. (2013). Outline of a theory of practice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. (Original work published 1977)). The habitus refers not only to the process of acquiring through recurrence, or to the habitual aspect of being accustomed to performing an action, but also to the growing capability, readiness, and ease in performing the act in similar—yet changed—environments. The experience of ownership is then the cumulative outcome of recurring bodily practices of spatial actions. The knowledge produced in the process of having is localized and privatized.
This relation between recursive actions and political development in Aristotle’s ethical philosophy should be emphasized. The hexis, because of its habitual and bodily nature, is the cornerstone of Aristotle’s ethical virtue. Unlike the intellectual, the ethical virtue can be neither appropriated through direct teaching nor developed naturally in man; its development is the outcome of reclusiveness, of habit (ethos): “The only way to have (virtue) is to do right … we become just by doing just acts” (Aristotle, 1999a Aristotle. (1999a). Nicomachean ethics. Retrieved from http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/nicomachaen.html, Book 2, p. 21, emphasis added). Hence the crucial importance of developing good practices at a young age: “It makes no small difference, then, whether we form habits of one kind or of another from our very youth; it makes a very great difference, or rather all the difference” (p. 21).”
Benzi Slakmon & Baruch B. Schwarz “Wherever You Go, You Will Be a Polis”: Spatial Practices and Political Education in Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning Discussions. Journal of the Learning Sciences Vol. 26 , Iss. 2,2017