Handbook of Urban Geography
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Handbook of Urban Geography

Edited by Tim Schwanen and Ronald van Kempen

This collection brings together the latest thinking in urban geography. It provides a comprehensive overview of topical issues and draws on experiences from across the world. Chapters have been prepared by leading researchers in the field and cover themes as diverse as urban economies, inequalities and diversity, conflicts and politics, ecology and sustainability, and information technologies. The Handbook offers a valuable resource for students and researchers interested in cities and the urban in geography and across the wider social sciences.
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Chapter 21: Sociality, materiality and the city

Sophie Watson


This chapter suggests that cities can be conceived of as a complexity of interconnected sites of vibrant matters, embodied entanglements and passionate affects. Cities are constantly inventing and reinventing themselves, and are spaces where the ‘social’ and sociality is enacted and emerges in unpredictable ways. The chapter considers how sociality and materiality in the city are co-constituted and entangled in the city in a specific historical moment. I argue that cities can be made and unmade in different configurations over time, constituted by socio-material and technological connections and networks, and entangled spaces of bodies, affects, things, urban infrastructures, pleasures, aesthetics, which are formed within fluid temporalities, spaces of flows and interconnections. The first section charts some of the key ways that sociality and materiality in the city have been conceived together in the city prior to the ‘material turn’. The second section outlines contemporary thinking of materiality and sociality as co-constituted and entangled/intertwined. In the final section, I think through sociality and the materiality in the context of public space.

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