Thinking of Space Relationally

Critical Realism Beyond Relativism – A Manifold Study of the Artworld in Beijing

Since the relational turn, scholars have combated methodological universalism, nationalism, and individualism in researching social-spatial transformations. Yet, when leaving the gaps between the traveling and local epistemic assumptions unattended, engaging relational spatial theories in empirical research may still reproduce established theoretical claims.

Following the sociology of knowledge tradition and taking Critical Realism as a meta-theoretical framework, Xiaoxue Gao takes relational spatial theories as traveling conceptual knowledge and develops meaningful and context-sensitive ways of engaging them in studying the complex urban phenomenon in China. She offers conceptual elucidations and methodological roadmaps, which leap productively from employing plural causal hypotheses to generating effect-based explanations for locally observable events. They are exemplified by manifold interrogations of Beijing's Artworld as a conjuncture of particular events.

€45.00 * $55.00 *

9 April 2021, 282 pages
ISBN: 978-3-8376-5587-2

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Xiaoxue Gao

Xiaoxue Gao, Technische Universität Berlin, Deutschland

1. Why did you choose this topic?

I am initially intrigued by the heterogeneity and displacement of contemporary art spaces in the Chinese mega-city of Beijing, constituted by trans-local knowledge, capital and social practices. When investigating such complex and dynamic spatial phenomenon, I found myself in a dilemma of either addressing the post-colonial/southern epistemic essentialism or post-modern epistemic ambiguity. I hereby dedicate this work to develop an alternative methodical approach to overcome such fallacy.

2. What new perspectives does your book offer?

By engaging with ›stratified ontology‹ and ›pluralist methodology‹ from critical realism, locally observable spatial phenomena are analyzed in a manifold yet context-sensitive manner. Both European and Chinese relational epistemic postulations are treated as equal initial theories whose fallibilities are determined by effect-based causality. This perspective renders the systematic mixing of plural theories, the illumination of generative mechanisms and their contingent conjunctures possible.

3. What makes your topic relevant for current research debates?

It first enriches the debates over thinking of space relationally. This book lifts the neural masquerades of prevalent relational spatial theories by elucidating their distinct epistemic postulations and explanatory powers. It then develops a coherent pluralist methodology for urban studies in compressed modern conditions. Based on critical realism's social ontology, it addresses the connections and conflicts of co-existing generative mechanisms, while shies away from politicizing science.

4. Choose one person you would like to discuss your book with!

Laurence Roulleau-Berger, the editor of Post-Western revolution in sociology: from China to Europe. I believe, she would be interested in reading this book, which has a special focus on integrating European relational spatial theories to constructively research urban space in China. Also, her long-term observational, research experiences and brilliant insights about the European and Chinese sociological knowledge production would bring stimulating questions and comments to my research.

5. Your book summary in one sentence:

A methodology for thinking of space relationally beyond relativism: from multiple learned theories to manifold situated research.

Xiaoxue Gao
Book title
Thinking of Space Relationally Critical Realism Beyond Relativism – A Manifold Study of the Artworld in Beijing
transcript Verlag
kart., Dispersionsbindung, 9 SW-Abbildungen, 16 Farbabbildungen
Commodity Group
SOC026000 ART009000
Release date
9 April 2021
Raum, Kunst, Europa, Wissenschaft
Sociology, Urban Studies, Human Geography, Philosophy
Relational Space, Critical Realism, Artworld, China, Space, Art, Science, Sociology of Knowledge, Sociology of Art, Sociology

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