Siting prisons, sighting communities: geographies of objection in a planning process

Armstrong, S. (2014) Siting prisons, sighting communities: geographies of objection in a planning process. Environment and Planning A, 46(3), pp. 550-565. (doi: 10.1068/a45407)

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This paper reviews the planning process for a Scottish prison located near a former mining village. Analysing the letters of objection submitted by residents offers an opportunity to explore local views about prison and community and to relate these to the unique social and spatial history of the area. The planning process itself structured how residents were able to express themselves and defined what counted as a relevant objection. After deconstructing this process, the paper then restores and uses as a framework for analysis three geographies of objection stripped from local responses to the development proposal: the emotional, temporal, and spatial. Emotional expressions of objection added intensity and gave meaning to claims about the historical decline of the region and also conveyed a deep sense of the proposed building site as a lived space. Particular grounds of opposition—over fear of strangers, the fragility of a local orchid, and the pollution from mining—provide an opportunity to explore the complex nature of place meaning and community identity, ultimately leading to a conclusion that the meaning of place is always in flux. The paper argues that Simmel’s classic concept of the stranger, as the outsider who comes to stay, offers a useful analytic in understanding how the quality of proximal remoteness that prisons and other unwanted developments constitute participates in a constantly evolving sense of the local.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Sarah Armstrong, 2013. The definitive, peer-reviewed and edited version of this article is published in Environment and Planning A, 46, 3, 550-565, 2014,
Keywords:Prison siting, objection discourses, penal geography
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Armstrong, Professor Sarah
Authors: Armstrong, S.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Journal Name:Environment and Planning A
ISSN (Online):1472-3409
Published Online:18 October 2013
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2013 Pion and its Licensors
First Published:First published in Environment and Planning A 46(3):550-565
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
476721Ethnography of Penal Policy in ScotlandSarah ArmstrongEconomic & Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/F042949/1SPS - SOCIOLOGY