CHAPTER ONE: THESIS INTRODUCTION AND ARGUMENT
Second Life is a virtual world that has been generated by Linden Lab and introduced in 2003. Although, there are many other virtual worlds, yet Second Life is probably considered the most famous one among them all. According to Linden Lab, the main reason for creating Second Life is to develop computer hardware that allows people to be immersed in a virtual world. Like many other virtual environments, the space represented in Second Life is modelled on the space of the ‘real’ world: Cartesian, three-dimensional and rational. Malaby (2011) stated that, since Second Life was first introduced in 2003, the need to manage and design its environment or space has been changed dramatically; starting from providing extra ground/ land, defined shapes and objects, day/ night cycle, building style, colour, texture, and much more features moving to create islands and real-states that user of Second Life can buy, own, and even rent. In other words, the developers and designers keep infusing new ideas to enhance the design of the Second Life environment to mimic the real-life design. While it is clearly not the same space as the real world as computing power increases, and as more contributions to the design of Second Life are made by its members, it’s likeness and fidelity to ‘real’ space grows. Ultimately, it seems to be the aim of many advocates that the space of virtual life should be indistinguishable from that of the non-virtual world. However, this assumption, of unproblematic modelling of virtual space on real space, deserves critical attention. The most obvious difference is that the space of the real world is not simply a representation, rather, it is a lived space that contains and constrains our actions in a manner that cannot be mimicked in virtual space. We also have a more pronounced feeling of being an ‘embodied’ subject when we are in the real space of daily life. We also do not have to make any effort to ‘visit’ real space, we are in and of it. For these and other reasons, a critical analysis of the representation of the space of the virtual world is warranted.
Past studies acknowledges Henri Lefebvre as one of the principle instigators of the multi-disciplinary spatial turn in social sciences and geography (Zieleniec, 2018, p.5; Beyes, 2018). His fundamental deals with the space production, the metropolitan and the right to the city gives a way to understanding and analysing the intricacy of the structure, design, association and modernity experience. Likewise, it offers the possibility and a critique for a reconfigured way to the landscape, architecture structure, design, and planning of the city and the metropolitan, which prevails under capitalism because it is the dominant form (Beyes, 2018). Lefebvre gives a basic spotlight on how space tends to be revamped and is made through and by friendly practice to an oeuvre that is the art’s work regular daily existence. According to Zieleniec (2018, p.5), this implies that the individual that possesses and produces space via design and planning should give opportunities for the imaginative use, for festival, and play. Indeed, this ensures that the city’s social and public spaces become a living space as opposed to a sterile tedium of profit over individuals, exchange over use value, and function over fun. That is, to suggest that understanding the space production through its design, planning, metropolitan administration, and architecture can and ought to give opportunities for changing the city as a more liveable, accessible, and humane social space. Hence, this study will address how Lefebvre’s hypothesis of space production, his composition on the city, and his unequivocal call that the city has the right to reflect on not just a more comprehensive planning and configuration measure. Besides, the city comprehension and the metropolitan as types of functionalised space enables us to understand the social cycles of the individuals using the space. That is, the incorporation and strengthening of the implications, qualities, expectations and imaginations of metropolitan residents for whom the city is lived through and inside more than only the planned arranged space intentions.
While certain aspects of Henri Lefebvre’s writings have been examined extensively within the disciplines of geography, social theory, urban planning and cultural studies, there has been no comprehensive consideration of his work within the virtual world. Henri Lefebvre’s spatial theories and writings such as the production of space provide a serious analysis of the relevance, flexibility, and importance of this significant thinker of the space for the study of the virtual world and its space. This study paper Introducing Lefebvre to the audience of the virtual world and identifies the central themes that run through his work, including his unorthodox, humanist approach to Marxist theory, his sociological and methodological contributions to the study of everyday life and most importantly his theory of the production of space. The theory of the production of the space is explored through detailed investigations of the relationships between the three types of space that are represented by Lefebvre’s triad spatial model.
The interest in Lefebvre and his theory the production of space was driven by many reasons; one of these reasons is that Lefebvre’s theory was based on the real world. Although many form different disciplines (urbanists, geographers, etc.) have used and applied The Production of Space theory, however, no one has tried to apply it to the virtual world yet. Out of courtesy, Lefebvre might have done it if he is still alive or if the Second Life was established during his lifetime. Furthermore, according to Elden, S. (2004) and Shields, R. (1999) that Lefebvre’s work illustrates his ability to synthesis different disciplines and approaches. Also, according to Kofman, E. & Lebas, E. that Lefebvre’s “urban vision remains relevant for the developed world despite all the transformation in urban life and structure” (Lefebvre, H. 1995: 6). These statements have increased the interest in the ability to apply Lefebvre’s theory on Second Life space. In addition, since this theory first published, many things might be changed or even vanished. One of these things that could be said that it has been established strongly and changed dramatically is Second Life. This world perhaps is competing with the real world when it comes to designing its spatial environment. From this point, it seems convincing to apply Lefebvre’s theory on the Second Life, since it has not been done before, and experimenting the applicability of a theory that has been established for Real-World space to be applied on Second Life space.
Past research underscores that Lefebvre was very much aware that existing spatial structures and designs in the modern metropolitan were not unconstrained or appeared without a set of experiences (Kinkaid, 2020, p.168). Space is dependent upon the activities and activity of force in which the control, possession and space regulations that allows a few activities to happen while restricting or endorsing others, as it is not neutral. As Zieleniec (2018, p.6) presupposed, space has been formed and shaped from verifiable and normal components through a political interaction. Indeed, space is philosophical and political. However, studies do not give individuals that regulate, control, and own space, why, for what purposes and how this is accomplished (Zieleniec, 2018, p.6). Hence, it is critical to understand how current metropolitan conditions are made, how they change and how this effects on the regular lived insight of their populaces. Besides, temporal and spatial practices are never unbiased in get-togethers. They in every case express some sort of class or other social substance, and are as a rule the focal point of serious social battle. Notably, this is anything but a single direction measure. That is, space is liable to conflict over possession, over implications, uses, values, among others and subsequently a territory (for Lefebvre, a critical landmark) to contest social equity and correspondence.
Space production occurs in a dynamic connection between social practices. Thus, there is a complementary relationship between the components engaged when it is being produced. As Leary-Owhin (2018) argued, under capitalism has the component’s triad that for Lefebvre has come to overwhelm the others portraying space representations and mirrors the necessities and needs of money, of capital, of financial and political elites, as well as of those with influence. Studies indicate that space is shaped and produced for social multiplication, financial creation, and since social relations permeate space, it upheld by produced and producing social connections, as well as uphold by the latter (Pierce, 2019). Space is created as endeavours to shape, control, and rule space well as individuals and exercises that are permitted or who need to utilise it. Predominant spatial structures are delivered as the outcome not of contending thoughts and qualities in advancement but essentially by the burden of the powerful elite who try to control it to their greatest advantage. Nonetheless, to comprehend the principal significance of the space production we should, as Leary-Owhin (2018, p.3) contends, see its intricacy as well as the struggles and difficulties that makes space the result of social relations. According to Zieleniec (2018, p.7) human patterns determines the shapes of the indigenous habitat that stories of how places are arranged, planned, fabricated, possessed, appropriated, celebrated, pillaged and disposed of prove. Hence, urban design, social history, and cultural identity are entwined.
The study will contend that an appreciation, comprehension and information on Lefebvre’s spatial reasoning is not just suitable but fundamental in making a more altruistic and comprehensive sociospatial climate that differentiations with the expanding privatisation of prioritised and commodified social and public space. Lefebvre offers the opportunities for the turn of events and use of a basic, and a politically and socially dedicated arranging plan hypothesis and practice, one that advances, considers, and incorporates the significance of producing space to include the qualities, various practices and inventive capability of regular day to day existence to remake and reimagine the city (Büscher-Ulbrich, 2020, p.142). Also, Lefebvre’s plea for city rights would thus be perceived as a test to the domineering conventionality of the homogenising practices of preparation, plan, commerce, and the overall worry with hazard evaluation and evasion, observation, security and order, and the money necessities to make conditions for augmenting benefit. Accordingly, his accentuation looks for a rebalancing of the option to occupy and make space instead of be subject only to a made useful natural surroundings.
1.2 Research Problem
(The nature of Second Life Space)
Second Life space is a virtual world that has been created by advanced technology and looked at it as an abstraction and metaphysics space that is only generated by codes and calculated by numbers. Yet, the social interaction inside this world has gone beyond expectation in a way that is believed it left an impact on its space nature. More understanding of the nature of Second Life space is needed; because although as claimed by its creator, Linden Lab, a company founded by Philip Rosedale, that it is considered as an escape from reality and overcome the differences of traditions, races, and cultures we face in the real world. However, what if we are escaping the reality to something even worse and only represent an illusion of reality? What if demanding everyday life and democracy in a virtual space, claiming freedom and ultimate life experience in angles that are away of our hands, the sense of existence and emergence in a world that is not more than another illusion that has been created by technology, hunted by our illusions and modernity what we are trying to escape at the first place? What if the claimed freedom is another illusion? In the contrary, Second Life environment designed to mimics the space of reality in many ways, which it raises many other questions about it including the signs of social interaction within its environment, the nature of relationships inside.
1.3 Research Hypothesis: Second Life Space is Produced by Social Interaction
People live in space produced and constrained by others (those with ability to shape, frame, and address to us its proper usage), and which humans need to explore to sort out and work on the planet. As social collectives and as people, we do not generally acknowledge the constraints imposed by others, act as we ought to, or do what we are told. Most often individuals impose individual values and meanings, colonise, occupy, envision, and undermine, as well as use space in playful and creative that can challenge and contest prevailing space structures and portrayals in their second life (Yeh and Makley, 2019). Thus, there is a requirement for the existence for fairs, celebrations, fun and skips around, for play in which we share with others our feeling of being and having a place, character and culture, that communicates our fundamental human condition our innovativeness, expectations and assumptions. Hence, this study will seek to prove the hypothesis that social interaction produces the second life space.
1.4 Research Question: How to Understand the Nature of Space in Second Life?
Hence, the nature of Second Life space is the main aim of this thesis; the research question is:
How to understand the nature of space in Second Life?
In order to use Henri Lefebvre theory “The Production of Space” on Second Life (SL) space, thus, the main objectives of the study are the Following:
1.5 Research Aim and Objectives
1.6 Research Outcomes and Contributions
Lefebvre’s fundamental work of space production has been profoundly influential in space prioritisation in analysing interdisciplinary scientific and social contexts. Lefebvre repeatedly attested in different city works, space and regular day to day existence the need to know about space not just as a theoretical rule, or a method for philosophical and material control but as the challenged landscape in which regular daily practices and life discern implications, qualities, signs and images. Indeed, his humanist Marxism, analysis, and critique of the metropolitan impacted him and innovation under capitalism. Studies pinpoint that Lefebvre emphasised the need to consider the authentic, social, political and financial setting wherein the complex of components in the space production is fundamental to understand the experience, the results, and the capitalism endurance (Zieleniec, 2018, p.6). In addition, perceived space and spatial practices that structure day-by-day life and a more extensive metropolitan reality and, in this manner, guarantee cultural union, progression and a particular spatial ability. Hence, we need to know space, how to explore, be in and arrange relations in space in an intelligent and reliable approach to bode well and capacity on the planet.
The research employs a systematic research review method, as it is the most appropriate method to the virtual environment. According to Dewey and Drahorta (2016), it critically appraises research, selects, and identifies the subject to provide an answer to a specific formulated question. Also, the method follows a clearly stipulated plan or plan in which the criteria is stated before beginning the research. As such, it is a transparent and comprehensive search conducted over grey literature and multiple databases, which can be reproduced and replicated by other scholars. The process encompasses planning a decisive strategy that is well thought and has a particular emphasis to the subject of study or answers specific questions. Henceforth, this paper adopts the method as the review identifies the correlation between the topics of study and reported or reviewed information within a certain timeframe. Besides, the search strategies and terms can include platforms and databases, as well as limits. Thus, the method helps the researcher understand the subject; provide insights, and relationship between the contents of the study.
The virtual reality and ethics intersection has to date zeroed in essentially on individual issues, for instance, violence, blood, or explicit substance. Although these dilemmas are critical, many other subtler moral issues associated with virtual reality require the consideration of related communities, engineers, scientists, and designers (Kenwright, 2018, p.22). Henceforth, architects, developers, and testers ordinarily ought to focus on particular regions in to produce spaces. Also, they should contribute in providing answers to moral issues, or be liable for inputting moral concerns. That is, planners should settle on choices dependent on the focal point of their insight and encounters in most cases despite their extent of information not generally incorporating the wide scope of regions that may affect the public identified with physiological, social, or moral angles.
As Kenwright (2018) presupposed, consumers ought to be entitled the various tests that are carried out in the production of space to guarantee public safety, such as mental and physical safely, for old and youthful, in all circumstances and conditions. Likewise, any potential issues or dismissed issues ought to be explicitly expressed as a moral obligation and public matter, not only for legitimate purposes. Obviously, this may be tested by administrative choices — any refusal or questioning (or even open declaration without authorisation because of NDAs) may affect the person’s career. Subsequently, controllers need to step in and guarantee progenitors are accessible and the realities are not compromised when dealing with avatars. Besides, it is better to prevent a particular situation than remedy it. Thus, we need to acknowledge that it is critical to solve a problem before it manifests, using preventive measures to produce a more secure and reliable solution or use forward thinking to ensure that the technology is future-proof.
Additionally, the use of virtual innovation in a scientific setting is constrained by morals laws and rules, which differ across nations that, in general, abide to specific principles. For instance, normal research ethics in the UK includes minimising harm, maximising benefit, social responsibility, and respect for scientific value, person dignity, as well as autonomy (Slater et al., 2020, p.1). Also, such research should likewise consider hazards explicit to this innovation on top of research risks, such as the participants’ social standing, effect on the psychological and physical wellbeing, data related issues, and exposure to sensitive themes, and vulnerable individuals.
The dissertation is divided into chapters. The first chapter presents the thesis argument and introduces the literature review on Henri Lefebvre’s production of space and the virtual second life of individuals. Chapter two reviews related literature on the representation of space in second life. The section critically assesses the virtual world developments and establishments, second life origins, second life space, and the similarities between second life space and real-world space. Chapter three provides literature on the connection between Lefebvre’s writings and space production. This includes Lefebvre’s writings on space, capitalism, space production theory, and Rhythmanalysis. On the other hand, chapter four combines insights obtained from the two previous chapters with an aim to illustrate the interrelation between the developed content. Hence, the section advances the discussion regarding the unique characteristics of Second Life as a world and its features that facilitate social interactions. Lastly, chapters five, six, and seven will provide the methodology for the study, research outcomes, discussions, and suggestions for future research.
Beyes, T., 2018. Politics, Embodiment, Everyday Life: Lefebvre and Spatial Organization. In Organizational Space and Beyond (pp. 27-45). Routledge.
Büscher-Ulbrich, D., 2020. Politics and the Production of Space: Downtown and out with Rancière and Lefebvre. In Exploring the Spatiality of the City across Cultural Texts (pp. 141-166). Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.
Dewey, A. and Drahota, A., 2016. Introduction to systematic reviews: online learning module. Cochrane Training. Available at https://training.cochrane.org/interactivelearning/module-1-introduction-conducting-systematic-reviews [Accessed 30th July, 2021].
Kenwright, B., 2018. Virtual reality: Ethical challenges and dangers [opinion]. IEEE Technology and Society Magazine, 37(4), pp.20-25.
Kinkaid, E., 2020. Re-encountering Lefebvre: Toward a critical phenomenology of social space. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 38(1), pp.167-186.
Leary-Owhin, M.E., 2018. Henri Lefebvre, Planning’s Friend or Implacable Critic?. Urban Planning, 3(3), pp.1-4.
Pierce, J., 2019. How can we share space? Ontologies of spatial pluralism in Lefebvre, Butler, and Massey. Space and Culture, p.1206331219863314.
Slater, M., Gonzalez-Liencres, C., Haggard, P., Vinkers, C., Gregory-Clarke, R., Jelley, S., Watson, Z., Breen, G., Schwarz, R., Steptoe, W. and Szostak, D., 2020. The ethics of realism in virtual and augmented reality. Frontiers in Virtual Reality, 1, p.1.
Yeh, E.T. and Makley, C., 2019. Urbanization, education, and the politics of space on the Tibetan Plateau. Critical Asian Studies, 51(1), pp.1-11.
Zieleniec, A., 2018. Lefebvre’s politics of space: Planning the urban as oeuvre. Urban Planning, 3(3), pp.5-15.
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