Forming and Opening the Socio-spatial Logic of Constraint

Matthew DelSesto

Abstract


Abstract: While policy makers seek to realign socio-technical infrastructures and institutions based on the urgency of climate crisis and environmental degradation, civil society groups and community-based organizations enable ecologically informed practices every day. Focusing on the ways in which people interact with the local physical built and unbuilt environment, this theoretical paper explores the lingering social, spatial, and psychic implications of an anthropocentric logic of constraint that has dominated the design of institutions and spaces in the United States. Attention to the interactional dynamics of constraint reveals that even as institutions paveover or displace vibrant social and ecological life there is an unevenness filled with cracks or openings that creates the conditions for socio-technical transition. Particular attention is given to the emerging people-plant interaction rituals, related to biophilic design or therapeutic gardens, that are enacted in-between conventional top-down and bottom-up processes. The potential of ritual interactions and collective consciousness in the design of plant environments is emphasized as a pathway to reconfiguring social-ecological relationships at multiple scales.

Keywords: social and environmental psychology; symbolic interaction; socio-technical transitions and practices; therapeutic horticulture and green care; biophilic design.

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