The Space Between Us: Social Geography and Politics

The Space Between Us: Social Geography and Politics


Reviewed by Ron Johnston

First Published:

20 Feb 2018, 12:00 am

Book review: The Space Between Us: Social Geography and Politics" class="title-link m-article-cta" target="_blank" rel="noopener">

The Space Between Us: Social Geography and Politics

Social scientists have long been interested in contextual effects, but have rarely been able to find conclusive evidence that they exist, despite theorising that they operate across a very wide range of subject matter involving virtually all disciplines. Many of their analyses use aggregate data and find patterns consistent with their expectations, but they cannot be sure that they are not committing an ecological fallacy – a problem that may be exacerbated by the modifiable areal unit problem. And even if they have individual data they very often cannot be certain that they have identified a causal relationship; there are frequently potential selection effects whereby, for example, individuals prone to act in particular ways tend to congregate together, thereby creating the context rather than being influenced by it.

The answer, as many have realised but relatively few have been able to implement, is experimental research, with social scientists either identifying a ‘natural experiment’ – where the situation allows testing a contextual effect hypothesis without the potential influence of selection effects – or they devise and implement one themselves. Few have done either: Ryan Enos has done both and describes them in this fascinating book.


You can access and read the full review here