ABSTRACT

Space is a political product and no political programme is without spatial effects (Gottdiener 1985). Space is also considered as a force of production along with capital and labour; and spatial organisation or structure is viewed as representative of the hierarchy of power and class struggle — both economic as well as spatial (Gottdiener 1985; Lefebvre 1991). Public spaces (like parks, roads, coffee houses, mass media) serve important social functions and their differential usage manifests the social cohesiveness or polarisation of a community. Inclusiveness in public spaces defines social organisation (Hauser 1998; Rubert 1999) and they matter because they are the context in which people are socialised and create their world-view (Johnston 1985: 2) or limit this social relations (Massey and Allen 1984). In other words, ‘. . . form of social integration becomes manifested in the structure of public space’ (Habermas 2004: 9). In many societies, the marginal groups (ethnically or economically) are forced to live in certain spaces which are ghettoes with limited access to public spaces. These marginalised groups may also be deterritorialised and denationalised from metaphorical national spaces. Understanding how people make spaces helps in understanding how spaces make people, produce particular social relations and inhibit the expression of alternative social practices. Metaphorical space is purely epistemological — based on constructed reality and geography and evokes a sense of place (Gotved 2002). Deeply rooted in historical memory and as physical surrogates, metaphorical spaces determine social spaces. In India, history never dies. It is often invoked and lived with and shapes the social spaces. The social space is also purely metaphorical — based on an individual’s interpretation of social interaction (ibid.). The metaphorical and socio-spatial constructions matter as they provide a sense of territoriality and community. They shape our day-to-day interactions and decision-making. They tell us 209who we are and who we are close to. In other words, it determines who we keep at a distance in our daily interaction, though they may be physically located in the nearby neighbourhood.