Simmel did write, however, about space. What follows is based on an interpretation of Simmel's work by Lechner.
Space is not just a place where individual can "be together" [reminiscent of Thrift's whales - see earlier post] but this interaction of "being together" is what fills the space and thus, the individuals share the space.
Simmel adopts a via media between social construction and spatial determinism. Space is to some extent socially formed but not a complete social construct, nor does space determine or have causal effects on society.
He elaborates on five social aspects of space:
- Exclusivity - social groups want exclusive rights to 'their' space.
- Partitioning of space - boundaries are important. A social order that occupies a space with a clear boundary makes that order more concrete (less abstract). "High fences make for good neighbours" - a partition effects relations with those on the other side. Simmel stresses that boundaries are sociological, not spatial.
- Fixity - space offers fixity to social forms.
- Distance - physical proximity has consequences.
- Movement through space has social significance - e.g. a nomadic tribe has strong integration.
- Political forms of organisation are spatially ordered - people are classified by location and not by ties of kinship.
- Authority over people is exerted as territorial control.
- Sharing a place with someone affirms communal ties - sometimes being bound to a particular place denotes members of a social group.
- Even an empty place has social significance.
Spatial abstraction - we don't have to share space in order to be together, because we're always together in the same global space.