Up to this point I told you about my interest in understanding space as shaper of social interactions. Yet, space does not only shape, it is also itself shaped by social and cultural forces. My understanding of space is multidimensional. Perception of space starts with our physical proximities and with the surfaces and bodies we can touch, see, or survey with our senses. However, we conceive of space as slipping through and melting into areas well beyond our immediate reach. In addition, human space is affectively charged. Space is in part stored in our heads as a component of various “imagined communities” conceived in a “good” vs. bad terms. Towns are divided, in our minds, into desirable or “to be avoided at all cost” areas. Nations are described to us as uneven spaces of excellence or nothingness – a vision that changes with one’s perspective. The world itself is stored in our minds as a collection of mental maps: Glamorous Paris, hip Amsterdam, dangerous Middle East, tidy Germany, uncomprehesible Balkans etc. Space is thus continuously idealized and simplified. This process takes place mostly in our heads. However, the images affecting it do not spontaneously originate in our minds. We are being fed a continuous stream of information coming from our surroundings or, most importantly, from communication channels.
Sorin A. Matei
Communication as a Spatial Problem: Methods and Theories
How do you capture affective mental imagery (geographies of fear)?
How do you assess the spatial goodness of fit between mental maps of fear and objective spatial reality?
How do you detect the role of the communication infrastructure in constructing spatial images of fear?
Measuring communicative construction of space and fear
Multilingual Telephone Surveys 1812 Households LA 801 Lexington 699 Brasov Communication Behavior Media Connections Belonging Index Avoidance/Desirability Demographics LA Focus Groups Community Issues Brasov/Lexington mail-out Sociospatial Mapping Of fear/Comfort RESEARCH DESIGN
Paper and pencil map Mental mapping Methodology
Westside Sample COLOR KEY Feared Unknown Cautious Comfortable Affective Maps of Los Angeles example
COLOR KEY Very feared = -2 Feared =- 1 Unknown = 0 Cautious = 1 Comfortable = 2 ArcView Map digitization 1 -1 2 0 Constructing a mental map Note: Lexington & Brasov, added one color to balance scale Average the maps using their similar pixel structure