Understanding Change in Political Science: On the Need to Bring Space into Theoretical Positions and Empirical Analyses



In recent times, issues surrounding change have become increasingly important in the study of political analysis. This is especially true within strains of new institutionalism such as historical institutionalism and the ‘Varieties of Capitalism’ approach. However, although this has led to a sensitising towards the temporal dimension, the spatial dimension has been relatively ignored. This is arguably problematic, as a fuller understanding of space and the spatiality of social and political relations would lead to more coherent and accurate analyses of political phenomena that currently characterise historical institutionalism. Indeed at an ontological level, drawing on work within the natural sciences and geography, it is impossible to talk of time without reference to spatiality and of space without reference to temporality. This short article reviews some of the more prominent historical institutionalist literature that deals with change and renders explicit the problematic conceptualisation of space, and consequently time, which underpins their analyses. Drawing on Massey and Sayer, it proceeds to outline briefly a relational conception of space and the difference that space makes to political analyses.