Sub-theme 08: Assemblages of Research Space; Freedom from or Freedom to – Finding the Space in the In-between


Deborah Blackman, University of Canberra, Australia
Steven Henderson, Kingston University, United Kingdom
Miguel Imas, Kingston University, United Kingdom
Diane Phillips, University of Canberra, Australia

Call for Papers

It is increasingly accepted that the learning and knowledge required for research needs appropriate ‘space’[1] to develop effectively; such space can be virtual or real and its role is to enable dialogue (see e.g., Castells, 1996), interaction and collaboration (e.g., Baker, Bennett & Homan, 2009). In its simplest form a space is an area provided for a particular purpose. However, space can also be seen to be a period of time, a physical or mental space or an opportunity for time for oneself. These ideas imply another definition given which is that:

“Space is an interval between any two or more objects; an interval between two points in time” (BrainyMedia, 2008).

This in-between role is an interesting one and leads to the question of whether the importance is the existence of a space between two things and, if so, is the interaction needed for learning occurring within, or surrounding, the space. Early thinkers such as Aristotle (Raychaudhuri and Samdahl, 2005) introduced the importance of the existence of space and began a deconstruction of both physical and mental spaces. These spaces once deconstructed, generated ideas and reflected such concepts as positive and negative forms of space; the emptiness, voids or gaps of space; the barriers, objects and activities that fill up or are bound up in spaces; the boundaries of finite space and ultimately boundless and borderless infinite space, a place with no boundaries. (Raychaudhuri and Samdahl, 2005; Sylvester, 2005; Hummel, 1993). For Aristotle these concepts of space are associated with early ideas on leisure, happiness and freedom: leisure time, time to think and reflect, leading us to a state of virtue and happiness and therefore the ‘freedom to’ do anything, thus taking on the meaning of infinite space and opportunity (Sylvester, 2005). However, space can contain objects and activities or be empty; in this case space is the ‘freedom from’ such activity, ‘freedom from’ objects, voids and gaps, as these spaces are negative spaces and are restricted by the very objects, boundaries and limitations that exist within the space. Consequently, it is important to understand ‘how to choose the right activity, at the right time, doing it the right way with the right feeling’ (Sylvester, 2005: 2) in order to be able to achieve freedom to develop, grow and innovate, rather than merely attain freedom from one obstacle or activity only to replace it with another.

Hence, this stream invites contributions that seek to:

  • discuss how the creation of new ideas relates to finding new spaces to work in;
  • evaluate positive (freedom to) and negative (freedom form) aspects of space;
  • consider alternative ontological, epistemological  or methodological applications which afford access to different spaces;
  • challenge current research thinking by explaining why the utilisation of spaces will affect research outcomes; or
  • use alternative dissemination/presentation styles in order to demonstrate how this might change the questions and or answers by altering the concept of “presentation space”


Baker, S. Bennett, A. Homan, S. (2009). Giving the Local a Music Spin. Space & Culture, 12(2), 148-165.

Castells, M. (1996). The Rise of the Network Society. The Information Age: Economy,

Society and Culture, Volume I. Oxford: Blackwell.

De Certeau, M. (1984). The practice of Everyday Life. Berkeley: Univ. California Press.

Gieryn, T. F. (2000). A Space for Place in Sociology. Annual Review Sociology, 26 (x),463-96.

Harvey, D. (1996). Justice, nature and the Geography of Difefrence. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

Hummel, C.(1993). ARISTOTLE, (384-322 B.C.). The quarterly review of comparative education, (Paris, UNESCO: International Bureau of Education), 23 (1/2), 39-51.

Raychaudhuri, U. and Samdahl, D.M. (2005). ‘Leisure embodied: examining the meaning of leisure from Greek and Vedic perspectives’. Presented at the Eleventh Canadian Congress on Leisure Research, May 17 – 20, 2005,  Malaspina University-College, Nanaimo, B.C

Sylvester, C. (2005).  A comparison of ancient and modern conceptions of happiness and leisure. Presented at the Eleventh Canadian Congress on Leisure Research, May 17 – 20, 2005, Malaspina University-College, Nanaimo, B.C

Deborah Blackman is a Professor at the University of Canberra. Her research considers how, where and when people learn, how this contributes to the knowledge organisation’s possess and the implications for change.

Steven Henderson is a Professor at Southampton Solent University whose interests include strategic management, research skills and critical management. In particular he considers the ontological questions within strategy development.

Miguel Imas is a Senior Lecturer at Kingston University. His research interests comprise radical and alternative forms of organising, post-modern and critical organisation theory.

Diane Phillips is an Assistant Professor at the University of Canberra, Australia. Her research focuses upon neoliberalism and managerialism in University research.

[1] We are aware that space is not place and, therefore, we are not treating the ideasas the same (Geiryn, 2000), Yet, following de Certeau (1984) and Harvey (1996) we do conceive that space can ultimately become a place once the gathering of things, meanings and values are shared, i.e., when spaces are filled with something be it people, practices, objects, representations or dialogue.

Posted On: June 8, 2014
Posted In:
Comments: No Responses