Head of Research Unit:
Dr. Stefan Gärtner
Spatial Capital is simultaneously the name, the research subject and the research object; Spatial Capital focuses not only on the capital of geographic and social spaces, i.e. of districts, cities, regions and nation states, but also on functional or perceived spaces, networks and clusters. The main idea of this new research area is that spaces have specific potentials (spatial capital) and need actors, competences, cultures, institutions and resources (spatial capital) in order to use and develop these potentials. Spatial Capital is also the potential resulting from spatial closeness in the forms of social proximity and structures of trust. It thereby captures the notion of endogenous potential, enhancing it by a spatial-relational dimension and the implementation capital (e.g. monetary capital and institutions) necessary for the activation of regional potentials.
It is crucial for a sustainable spatial policy to recognize the Spatial Capital, to enable the actors to valorize it and to develop an independent regional profile. Since regional structural and locational policies are mostly oriented towards general fashions and trends, the specific spatial capital is rarely recognized as potential. Often, analysis clings to an antiquated concept of space as a politic-administratively formed region (e.g. cities and counties). In doing so, they partially miss out on the specific Spatial Capital of functionally or socially interconnected territories. The use of specific Spatial Capital requires individual solutions rather than the homogeneous promotion of industry or infrastructure.
… (economic) competences, edificial and scenic resources, governance structures, networks, ideas, values, attitudes, atmospheres, identities, images and actors in regions, cities or districts. Spatial Capital can also be derived from seemingly negative aspects, e.g. if, due to a demographically and economically shrinking development, buildings are no longer used, spaces may be created and made open for new purposes.
… what becomes visible when space is understood socially, respectively functionally (Spatial layers) and – at first – independently of political-administrative borders. New concepts in spatial sciences using abstract relational notions of ‘space’ shall be researched analytically and conceptually, relating them to location development and regional structural policy.
… social proximity, a resource of trust and knowledge for companies, organizations and political bodies. For example, one question would be whether the spatial dimension should receive more attention with regard to the regulative debate on market failure and the legitimation of state actions.
… monetary capital present in the region, in form of credit provisions and the regional retaining capability of money and subsidies. Monetary capital is necessary for achieving a sustainable rate of return of regional Spatial Capital.
… Services of general interest and instruments which are at the same time Spatial Capital and the precondition to the development of Spatial Capital. Services for general interest should fulfil activating, steering and co-ordinating functions and take into consideration the individual needs of the regional population.
The activation of all Spatial Capitals present presumes equal opportunities. However, this does not necessarily mean creating the same living condition in all regions. It is rather about defining an overall spatial concept that allows for sophisticated spatial functions, understands equality as a quality, makes long-term participation possible and prevents regional crisis circuits.