The Politics of Scale Through Rancière

I have a new open-access paper published in Progress in Human Geography. The paper takes stock of Human Geography’s scale debate: observing how it has arrived at somewhat of an impasse surrounding scale’s relation to both politics and ontology. In particular I note how, for some, ‘already-existing’ scales have become seen as ‘ontological reification’ that stifles political possibilities and how, for others, it’s necessary to take stock of already-existing scales in order to direct political action. To move beyond this impasse, I make the case for Rancière’s aesthetic approach (his solution to the problem of ontological reductionism) as one way forward.

Please find a link to the paper here and a full abstract below.

This paper argues that human geography’s scale debate has arrived at somewhat of an impasse surrounding scale’s relative position to ontology. Divides are most evident between those that see scales as ‘already existing’ and those considering this as a form of ‘ontological reification’ that stifles our understanding of politics. I suggest that reading the ‘politics of scale’ through Jacques Rancière’s political thinking, and in particular his aesthetic approach to the problem of ontological reductionism, can offer one way forward. It enables geographers to take existing ‘common-sense’ ideas around scale seriously whilst also being sensitive to emergent politics.