Law, Sensory Experience and Urban Space: The Making of the Regular City, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Law, Sensory Experience and Urban Space

The Making of the Regular City, 1st Edition

By Rebecca Goodbourn


224 pages

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Hardback: 9781138636903
pub: 2019-12-01
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As many western countries are increasing their legal regulation and surveillance of public spaces, this book offers new ways of thinking about and addressing urban inhabitation, by showing how particular understandings of the world become entrenched through physical and sensory experience. Combining empirical work, analyses of cultural representations, historical research, and legal analysis, this book considers the ways in which urban regulation extends beyond written law, as it becomes interwoven with broader cultural concepts, images and representations. Taking the city of Melbourne, Australia, as a case study, the book looks at how the gridded structure of Melbourne’s city centre has, over time, been infiltrated with a network of small laneways. Beyond legal regulation, these overlooked and alternative public spaces offer a way of rethinking how we inhabit the city. More specifically, it is by attending to the embodied, sensory, experience of urban life that this book highlights the contingency of the city’s legal, political and social order. Denaturalising its established power and economic relations, it thus describes, not just the force, but also the fragility of the current regulatory processes through which urban subjectivity is conditioned.

Table of Contents



Question: What is experience?

Chapter 1: The nature of laneways

Chapter 2: The matter of waste

Response: Experience is the present potential of excess


Question: What does it do to promote spaces ‘off the map’ as an escape?

Chapter 3: Lose yourself

Chapter 4: The cut

Response: The grid—the map—becomes the assumed norm


Question: How can we create an open address?

Chapter 5: Facing bodies

Chapter 6: Seats of inhabitation

Response: By inhabiting with others


About the Author

Rebecca Goodbourn

About the Series

Space, Materiality and the Normative

Space, Materiality and the Normative presents new ways of thinking about the connections between space and materiality from a normative perspective. The series is concerned with addressing the use, regulation and experience of space and materiality, broadly understood, and in particular with exploring their links and the challenges they raise for law, politics and normativity.

Space, Materiality and the Normative welcomes analyses of space–materiality–normativity links from any institutional setting (financial market spaces, organisational spaces, urban space, legal space, mediated space, architecture, etc.). Proposals can be theoretical, discussing various conceptual strategies to study the use, regulation and experience space and materiality; they can be historical, outlining changes in how spaces are governed; or they can assume a more contemporary-diagnostic approach, investigating, for example, the emergence of post-national architectures or post-capitalist urban spaces. Submissions are welcomed exploring the following themes:

  • The changing politics of space, bodies and objects
  • Embedded normativities of spatial governance and resistance
  • Megacities and the regulatory (and experiential) challenges they give rise to
  • Spatial atmospheres, how they are experiences and governed
  • The links between space and materiality
  • Colonial and postcolonial spaces and materialities

The book series is intended as a critical interdisciplinary series, at the interface of law, social theory, politics, architecture, geography and urban studies.

For further information on the series, or to discuss a possible contribution, please contact the Series Editors at:

Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, School of Law, University of Westminster, email:

Christian Borch, Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy, Copenhagen Business School, email:

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / Environmental
LAW / Property
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / Urban