Spatial Partitioning and the Politician's Wisdom

Date01 October 1980
Published date01 October 1980
DOI10.1177/019251218000100402
432
SPATIAL
PARTITIONING
AND
THE
POLITICIAN’S
WISDOM
JEAN
GOTTMANN
Jean
Gottman
presents
the
general
theme
of
this
special
issue
of
the
International
Review
of
Political
Science.
He
surveys
the
other
six
articles,
all
of
which
are
concerned
with
the
general
theme
of
relationships
between
spatial
partitioning
and
political
thought,
although
they
deal
with
different
subjects
and
take
different
approaches.
Two
aspects
of
the
relationships
in
question
are
examined
in
this
issue
of
the
Review,
which
sets
the
views
of
geographers
alongside
those
of
political
scientists.
In
the
first
place,
spatial
partitions
are
considered
as
boundaries;
while
the
latter
have
become
more
flexible
in
recent
years,
they
continue
to
be
a
source
of
problems
and
tensions.
The
second
aspect
studied
is
electoral
geography
and
its
methodology.
By
way
of
conclusion,
the
article
raises
the
issue
of the
dynamic
nature
of
partitions
and
society,
in
contrast
to
the
geographical
stability
of
electoral
patterns.
Must
we
conclude
that
political
ideas
are
rooted
in
geographic
space,
or
that
the
basis
of
geographical
stability
is
an
inheritance
from
earlier
habits
of
thought?
As
far
back
as
records
go,
scholarly
thought
has
been
concerned
with
the
relationship
between
geography
and
politics,
between
political
behavior
and
geographical
phenomena.
Geography
and
politics
develop
in
the
same
space:
the
space
accessible
to
human
activities.
It
is
a
diversified
and
partitioned
space.
Geography
analyzes
the
differences
between
spatial
units;
the
political
processes
manage
them.
In
the
Western
countries
where
representative
democracy
has
become
the
rule
and
where
modern
political
science
has
emerged,
the
dictum
that
&dquo;the
limits
of
a
politician’s
constituency
are
the
limits
of
that
politician’s
wisdom&dquo;
is
common
popular
belief.
It
sounds
sarcastic,
but
it
may
be
more
than
folklore
and
express
a
basic
rule
of
the
democratic
system:
if
a
politician
must
be
responsible
to
those
whom
he
or
she
represents,
that
politician’s
&dquo;wisdom&dquo;
could
well
be
delimited
by
what
develops
and
is
needed
within
the
constituency’s
limits.
Although,
as
emphasized
by
a
famous
decision
of
the
U. S.
Supreme
Court,
an
elected
represen-
433
tative
does
not
represent
acres
or
trees,
but
people,
the
represen-
tative’s
responsibility
is
to
the
people
in
a
demarcated
sector
of
space,
conveniently
designated
as
the
constituency.
Although
the
latter
may
be
of
variable
size
and
even
nature-a
whole
national
state,
an
electoral
district,
or
a
city
ward-it
must
have
a
given
territorial
extent,
and
therefore
geographical
limits.
The
partitioning
of
geographical
space
reflects
the
plurality
and
complexity
of
the
real
world.
By
its
very
existence
the
partitioning
also
increases
’this
complexity
and
adds
to
the
problems
with
which
political
processes
must
be
concerned.
This
is
so
because
of
the
interaction
among
the
compartments
delimited
by
the
partitions.
The
interaction
is
a
general
rule,
not
an
absolute
one:
There
have
been
inhabited
territories
where
people
have
lived
completely
isolated
from
the
rest
of
the
world,
at
least
for
prolonged
periods.
This
has
been
the
case
for
inhabitants
of
islands
or
archipelagoes
located
in
the
oceans
at
considerable
distances
from
other
land
(such
as
the
Hawaiian
Islands
before
Captain
Cook),
for
those
who
have
lived
in
valleys
or
basins
amid
mountainous
ranges
difficult
to
penetrate,
and
for
small
groups
lost
amid
tropical
forests
or
arctic
lands.
Such
communities
that
have
lived
without
neighbors
seem
to
have
had
only
small
populations.
Altogether,
very
little
is
known
about
their
past
and
even
less
about
their
political
organization.
Such
isolation
must
be
recognized,
but
it
is
of
little
portent
for
either
geography
or
political
science-first,
because
of
the
scarcity
of
data,
and
second,
because
the
historical
trend
has
been
for
such
isolation
to
disappear.
What
is
important
in
spatial
partitioning
is
the
network
of
limits
that
are
penetrable
and
through
which
currents
flow.
What
is
the
significance
of
these
limits?
To
what
extent
do
they
divide?
How
are
they
established
and
managed?
How
permanent
or
modifiable
are
they,
and
in
what
circumstances?
How
do
the
variable
characteristics
of
partitions
affect
the
political
process
in
the
sectors
of
space
these
partitions
separate,
and
the
lives
of
those
who
are
behind
them?
These
are
not
purely
theoretical
questions.
The
record
of
history
demonstrates
that
political
limits
in
geographical
space
have
been
and
remain
a
major
source
of
tension
and
conflict.
A

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