Doing Space Relationally: Exploring the Meaningful Geographies of Local Government

Laura Joanne Jones, Robin Mann, Jesse Heley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (SciVal)


Recent years have seen significant advancements in the theorising of relational space through conceptual frameworks which recognise the polymorphic organisation of sociospatial relations (e.g. Territory, Place, Scale and Network). Less understood, however, are the methodological challenges inherent in ‘thinking space relationally’. In particular, how can such conceptual vocabularies be sustained through the contingent practices of doing research? In this article, we address these concerns empirically through an analysis of the sociospatial responsibilities of local government actors across Wales, as new modes of spatial planning require them to think and act across administrative boundaries and policy areas. We introduce the notion of ‘patch’ as a means for eliciting conceptually open and grounded accounts of relational space as situated within personal/professional interests, cultures and ideologies. We identify different ways in which patch is relationally located, and how understandings of its boundaries and coherences relate to public policy remits. Yet while invoking different kinds of material and imagined spatiality, patch remains largely defined by the responsibilities and resources tied to local government boundaries. Institutional configurations continue to inform the way different spaces are discursively organised and practised. We conclude by reflecting on the need for accounts of relational space to be open to its everyday material groundings in relations of fixity and flow. Gesturing towards recent studies which display complementary concerns, we consider where attentiveness to patch and other ‘meaningful’ spatial frames has the potential to develop geographical analyses in new directions
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)190-200
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2013


  • Relational space
  • Patch
  • Local government
  • Wales
  • Spatial knowledge
  • Practice


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