Doreen Massey (geographer)

Doreen Massey (geographer)

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Doreen Barbara Massey FRSA FBA AcSS
Academy of Social Sciences
The Academy of Social Sciences is a research body in the UK. , the Academy was composed of over 450 Academicians and 32 Learned Societies. Academicians are distinguished scholars and practitioners from academia and the public and private sectors...

 (born 1944), is a contemporary British social scientist
Social Scientist
Social Scientist is a New Delhi based journal in social sciences and humanities published since 1972....

 and geographer
A geographer is a scholar whose area of study is geography, the study of Earth's natural environment and human society.Although geographers are historically known as people who make maps, map making is actually the field of study of cartography, a subset of geography...

, working among others on topics typical of marxist geography
Marxist geography
Marxist geography is a critical geography which utilises the theories and philosophy of Marxism to examine the spatial relations of human geography. In Marxist geography the relations that geography has traditionally analyzed - natural environment and spatial relations - are reviewed as outcomes of...

. She currently serves as Professor of geography
Human geography
Human geography is one of the two major sub-fields of the discipline of geography. Human geography is the study of the world, its people, communities, and cultures. Human geography differs from physical geography mainly in that it has a greater focus on studying human activities and is more...

 at the Open University
Open University
The Open University is a distance learning and research university founded by Royal Charter in the United Kingdom...



Massey was born in Manchester and studied at Oxford and Philadelphia, beginning her career with a thinktank, the Centre for Environmental Studies
Centre for Environmental Studies
The Centre for Environmental Studies was an environmental think-tank in the United Kingdom. It was established in 1967 by the second Wilson government as an independent charitable trust for the purpose of advancing education and research in the planning and design of the physical environment...

 (CES) in London. CES contained several key analysts of the contemporary British economy, and Massey established a working partnership with Richard Meegan, among others. CES was closed down and she moved into academia at The Open University. She was awarded the Victoria Medal
Victoria Medal (geography)
The Victoria Medal is an award presented by the Royal Geographical Society. It is awarded "for conspicuous merit in research in geography" and has been given since 1902.-Past recipients:...

 of the Royal Geographical Society
Royal Geographical Society
The Royal Geographical Society is a British learned society founded in 1830 for the advancement of geographical sciences...

 in 1994. After a distinguished career, she won the Prix Vautrin Lud (the ‘Nobel de Géographie’) in 1998.

Doreen Massey is a relatively frequent media commentator, particularly on industry and regional trends, and in her role as Professor at the OU she is involved in several educational TV programmes and books.

Scientific views

Doreen Massey's main fields of study are globalisation, regional uneven development
Regional development
Regional development is the provision of aid and other assistance to regions which are less economically developed. Regional development may be domestic or international in nature...

, cities
A city is a relatively large and permanent settlement. Although there is no agreement on how a city is distinguished from a town within general English language meanings, many cities have a particular administrative, legal, or historical status based on local law.For example, in the U.S...

, and the reconceptualisation of place
Place identity
Place identity refers to a cluster of ideas about place and identity in the fields of geography, urban planning, urban design, landscape architecture, environmental psychology, and urban sociology/ecological sociology. It concerns the meaning and significance of places for their inhabitants and users...

. Although associated with an analysis of contemporary western capitalist
Capitalism is an economic system that became dominant in the Western world following the demise of feudalism. There is no consensus on the precise definition nor on how the term should be used as a historical category...

 society, she has also worked in Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

 and South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...


Economic geography

Her early work at CES established the basis for her 'spatial divisions of labour' theory (Power Geometry
Power Geometry
Power Geometry, according to Doreen Massey, is how the time-space compression of 'globalization' affects people differently. Therefore a wholesale embracing or rejection of the processes linked with globalization fails to recognize what she has termed 'power-geometry'.-Note:Massey, D. ...

), that social inequalities were generated by the uneveness of the capitalist economy, creating stark divisions between rich and poor regions and between social classes. 'Space matters' for poverty, welfare and wealth. Over the years this theory has been refined and extended, with space and spatial relationships remaining central to her account of contemporary society.

Sense of place

While Massey has argued for the importance of place, her position accords with those arguing against essentialised or static notions, where:
  • places do not have single identities but multiple ones.
  • places are not frozen in time, they are processes.
  • places are not enclosures with a clear inside and outside.

Massey used the example of Kilburn High Road in north west London to exemplify what she termed a 'progressive' or 'global' sense of place, in the essay 'A Global Sense of Place'.


  • Massey, D.B. (2007). World City.
  • Massey, D.B (2005) For Space, London: Sage (ISBN 1412903610 & 1412903629)
  • Allen, J., Massey, D.B, Cochrane, A. (1998) Rethinking the region. New York: Routledge.
  • Hall, S.
    Stuart Hall (cultural theorist)
    Stuart Hall is a cultural theorist and sociologist who has lived and worked in the United Kingdom since 1951. Hall, along with Richard Hoggart and Raymond Williams, was one of the founding figures of the school of thought that is now known as British Cultural Studies or The Birmingham School of...

    , Massey, D.B., & Rustin, M. (1997) The next ten years. London: Soundings.
  • Massey, D.B. (1995) Spatial divisions of labor: Social structures and the geography of production 2nd edition. New York: Routledge.
  • Massey, D.B. (1994) Space, place, and gender. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  • Ginwala, F, Mackintosh, M, & Massey, D.B. (1991) Gender and economic policy in a democratic South Africa. Milton Keynes, U.K.: Development Policy and Practice, Technology Faculty, Open University.
  • Massey, D.B. (1988) Global restructuring, local responses. Atwood lecture. Worcester, Mass.: Graduate School of Geography, Clark University.
  • Massey, D.B. (1987) Nicaragua. Milton Keynes, England and Philadelphia: Open University Press.
  • Massey, D.B. (1984) Spatial divisions of labor: Social structures and the geography of production. New York: Methuen.
  • Massey, D.B. & Meegan, R.A. (1982) The anatomy of job loss: The how, why, and where of employment decline. London and New York: Methuen.
  • Massey, D.B. & Meegan, R.A. (1979) The geography of industrial reorganisation: The spatial effects of the restructuring of the electrical engineering sector under the industrial reorganisation corporation. Oxford and New York: Pergamon Press.
  • Massey, D.B. & Catalano, A. (1978) Capital and land: Landownership by capital in Great Britain. London: Edward Arnold. (ISBN 0713161086 and 0713161094 pbk)
  • Massey, D.B & Batey, P.W.J. (Eds)(1977) "Alternative Frameworks for analysis", London:Pion (ISBN 085086061X)
  • Massey, D.B. 1974. Towards a critique of industrial location theory London: Centre for Environmental Studies.
  • Massey, D.B. 1971. The basic: service categorisation in planning London: Centre for Environmental Studies.
  • Cordey-Hayes, M. & Massey, DB.. 1970. An operational urban development model of Cheshire. London: Centre for Environmental Studies.

External links