Introduction: the production of outer space

Peter Dickens, James Ormrod

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNChapter


The introductory chapter argues that societies are always constructed in relation to outer space, but also that outer space itself is socially produced. It notes that the contemporary humanization of outer space is bringing into question some of the boundaries between global society and its outside. Most obviously, communications satellites, space stations and outer space probes are now firmly linking earthly practices with outer space. Moreover, a number of other developments, including the privatization and commercialization of space, have arguably brought into being a ‘new outer space’ in the post-space race era. But outer space has long been a backdrop to society, associated with gods and science fiction fantasies. All these visions in different ways influence society’s practices and social relations, and are undergoing their own changes. The introduction surveys a wide array of contemporary work drawn from a range of social science and humanities disciplines that is attempting to get a handle on these changes. It then introduces a conceptual framework adapted from the sociologist Henri Lefebvre as a way of coordinating our understanding of relations between society and cosmos. It explains the organization of the book into three parts corresponding to Lefebvre’s triad of spatial production: Outer spatial practices; Representations of outer space; and Outer space as representational space. It suggests that whilst the contributions to this book do not fit neatly into one of Lefebvre’s categories, many of them spanning two or more parts of his triad, this framework remains very helpful for understanding the different chapters and making the key links between them.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Palgrave handbook of society, culture and outer space
EditorsJames Ormrod, Peter Dickens
Place of PublicationBasingstoke, UK
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages43
ISBN (Print)9781137363510
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2016


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