General Introduction

Spatial turn has been one of the influential cultural ‘turns’ in the last few decades each of which has a focus on interpretation, problematises epistemological questions and has a strong emphasis on methodology. Through the social scientific analyses of space, it has become apparent that contrary to its former concept focusing solely on its obvious physicality, space is produced in social practices: it provides identity for the individual and communicates symbolic meanings. These understandings have led to a marked differentiation of space and place in the social sciences. Spatial turn not only had its impacts on social sciences and cultural studies, but it also played a crucial role in the career of cultural geography. Globalization and the related processes of networked culture and digitalization have revealed that the spatially circumscribed phenomenon of culture and space controlling entities of society and nation have to be reconsidered and reinterpreted. Similarly to these reconsiderations, the traditional interpretations of publicity, politics and community-creation all deriving from the abstract concepts of space have to be re-evaluated also. The relationship between space as a geographic and place as a cultural entity can be problematised as the relationship of sign and meaning. Contemporary tendencies show the dominance of imaginary spaces (i.e. places) that lack geographical reference (that is they are not organized in the fashion of geographical models). The concepts of socially relevant spaces (culture, society, nation) have been fundamentally eroded by the economic logic of late capitalism, while the current (soon to be recent) revolution in communication technologies has brought forward brand new spatial experiences that poses a challenge to the previous interconnectedness of culture and locality (that has already been questioned by migration). New spaces created by the new technologies are often described with traditional spatial terms while they lack every aspect of physical spatiality.

However, it is important to note that this is not entirely a late-modern phenomenon. The reflection on non-direct spatial experience has already been present from the 19th century in the spatial experiences of diverse technological media and in the medially defined spatial experience of mass media (and mass culture). The concept of medially constructed and socially defined space can create a focal point for the interpretation of many issues regarding social communication: e.g. paradigm shifts in the public sphere (right until the new publics of social media), the relationship between politics and media (the mediatization of politics) or the new forms of power and control (surveillance) in mediatised spaces.

Drawing on these assumptions, the organizers of the 11th CEECOM conference seek papers of researchers and theory from a broad range of social scientific disciplines (from cultural anthropology through geography to sociology). The diverse issues that will be addressed in the CEECOM will cover a broad spectrum of ideas related to ongoing changes and transformations of the concept of space. The organizers look forward to presentations in (but not limited to) the following focal areas of interest:

  • Physical political spaces as communicative spaces
  • General questions of mediatised spaces
  • Social and control issues in politics and media
  • Online / digital spaces