2 The broadened concept of accessibility

Let us start with the definition of accessibility. The Dictionary of Human Geography defines accessibility through the concepts of ‘territoriality’ and ‘mobility’. Accessibility is the easiness by which people can reach the desired activity sites, such as those offering employment, shopping, medical care or recreation (Hanson, 2009*, p. 2). The dictionary also describes accessibility through telecommunication developments and mass-media (Hanson, 2009, p. 2–3), where the meaning of accessibility is, besides spatial aspects, broadened by social influences and by the communicational mobility.

In this paper we broaden the overview of accessibility with the accessibility-inaccessibility opposition and add a conflicting character to this term. The term ‘accessibility’ is not confined with any strict territorial or material borders like fences or signs – ‘private area’ or ‘keep out’, but rather with the purpose to understand the general socio-political context behind these signs. Adding the aforementioned opposition, our purpose is to understand how accessibility can be newly analyzed and discussed. This opposition allows us to include topics like ‘gated communities’ (Hook and Vrdoljak, 2002*; Abrahamson, 2004*; Libertun de Duren, 2006; Vesselinov et al., 2007; Fahmi and Sutton, 2008; Van Melik et al., 2009*; Rosen and Razin, 2009) or ‘gentrification’ (Márquez and Pérez, 2008; Vesselinov, 2008) into the analysis.

Similar updates may be noticed in the current boundary-territory studies in political geography, where boundaries are not handled only as a static, unchanging features of the political landscape, but they have their own internal dynamics, creating new realities and affecting people’s lives. Boundary studies are connected with alternative disciplinary approaches, where boundary is simultaneously understood as a geographical and social construct (Newman, 2003, p. 124). Sack and Paasi have treated territories as social constructions (see Paasi, 2003*, p. 111). The concepts of territory and boundaries control functional elements like the control of space, and symbolic dimensions, like social identity. They express the links between space, power and knowledge (Paasi, 2003, p. 109).

In this overview the focus on accessibility is justified by the discursive economic, cultural, social and subjective strategies, which influence directly material and social landscape formations. These critical perspectives of accessibility are offered within an historical materialist approach. As this approach does not focus on the possibilities excluded in defining the accessibility, these aspects are highlighted in this paper within a post-structural approach.

  Go to previous page Scroll to top Go to next page