So What Do You Do? Experimenting with Space for Social Creativity

Ariane Berthoin Antal and Victor J. Friedman

Direct experience comes from nature and man interacting with each other. In this interaction, human energy gathers, is released, dammed up, frustrated and victorious. There are rhythmic beats of want and fulfillment, pulses of doing and being withheld from doing.

(Dewey, 1934/2005, p. 1)

As John Dewey (1934/2005) observed “the first great consideration is that life goes on in an environment; not merely in it but because of it, through interaction with it” (p. 12, italics in original). It is puzzling that although organizational scholars may agree with him, they have not agreed on how social and physical space interact. Researchers who consider it problematic that “most previous research assumes that spatial orderings of things and people are merely part of the background” (Edenius & Yakhlef, 2007, p. 207) have been exploring space in organizations from different angles. Some authors are very critical of the passive role assigned to space: “To picture space as a ‘frame’ or container with no other purpose than to preserve what has been put in it is an error displaying traces of Cartesian philosophy” (Kornberger & Clegg, 2004, p. 1101). However, there is a risk that analysts attempting to redress the balance sometimes attribute such great powers to space as to anthropomorphize it and thereby relegate its inhabitants to the status of pawns of masterbuilders (e.g., Kornberger & Clegg, 2004). Our contention is that a clear conceptualization of the relationship between physical and social space is critical for understanding the actions people undertake in their present setting and envisage for the future. Our

A. Berthoin Antal (*)

Research Group Science Policy Studies, WZB Berlin Social Science Center, Berlin, Germany e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

V.J. Friedman

Department of Sociology and Anthropology/Department of Behavioral Sciences, Max Stern Academic College of Emek Yezreel, Jezreel Valley, Israel

© The Author(s) 2017

P. Meusburger et al. (eds.), Knowledge and Action, Knowledge and Space 9, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-44588-5_13

objective in this chapter is to deepen our understanding of the relationship between space and the generation of knowledge through and for action.

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