The Architecture of the Hospital: A Study of Spatial Organization and Medical Knowledge

Mar 01, 1988

This paper opens with a review of recent developments in the sociology of spatial organization. After an examination of the ontological and epistemological assumptions that are embedded within current theorizations of space, a number of arguments are advanced concerning the inter-relationships that hold between forms of knowledge, social practice and physical design. Using architectural plans, these arguments are then developed with reference to the study of the spatial organization of hospital wards in three contexts: the care and treatment of children, the containment of madness in the pre-1845 period and the management of psychiatric patients 1973-1982. The paper concludes that schemes of spatial organization are best understood in relation to the discursive practices of which they form a part rather than as decontextualized and reified social facts which exhibit their own 'logic'.

Lindsay Prior
The British Journal of Sociology
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The British Journal of Sociology

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