University of Southampton OCS (beta), CAA 2012

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The Spatial Construct of Social Relations: human interaction and modelling agency
Mu-Chun Wu

Last modified: 2011-12-16


The relationship between the spatial and the social has always been of major interest in spatial analysis. Recent research by social theorists has shown that not only is space a social construct, it is also a constituent of social relations. In terms of a spatial analysis in archaeology, most research has been focused on how social structure is reflected in spatial configuration, and how spatial layout supports and consolidates social order. However, the spatial constuction of social relations is rarely discussed. This research argues that interpersonal relationships are not entirely based on social identities, and social relations should also be investigated, regardless of their hierarchical status, but through intimate human interaction. By applying Ingold’s ‘wayfaring’ theory, this research models human agency from a ‘meshworked’ perspective, and demonstrates how social relations are influenced by agents walking around a settlement. By taking a meshwork approach, researchers can examine the agents’ social relations in more detail and gain better control over their relational attributes. Furthermore, this bottom-up approach allows the examination of  the allocated social relations as opposed to the delegated social identity, and benefits from understanding internal transformations.


GIS; Social Relations; Agency; Wayfaring; Movement; Taiwan