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Palgrave Macmillan

The Palgrave Handbook of Society, Culture and Outer Space

  • Book
  • © 2016


  • Will be a field defining text – no current book explores the sociology of the universe in such depth

  • Fills a genuine gap in current Handbook offerings

  • Draws together the key thinkers in the field from across Europe, Australia and the US

  • Highly Interdisciplinary – spans Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology, Geography, Politics, History, Science and Technology Studies and Culture and Media Studies

  • Explores issues such as space tourism, the rise of TV scientists, satellite surveillance, the archaeology and geography of outer space, the Higgs Boson, space law, space and art and psychoanalysis and the universe

  • Fits with plans to expand Science and Technology Studies on the list

  • Potential to crossmarket with W. H. Freeman 'Universe' titles

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About this book

Societies have always been formed in a relationship with the rest of the universe. With rapid developments in satellite communications and imaging, space exploration and tourism, military space technology, and cosmology itself, relationships with outer space are changing. These changes have inspired a wave of critical academic work in recent years, re-examining the history, present and future of outer space and the place of humans within it.

This handbook provides an in-depth exploration of major themes relating to society, culture and the universe and will inspire and cultivate debate in this exciting and burgeoning area of study for future researchers and theorists. Bringing together scholarship from a range of disciplines including geography, economics, history, political science, sociology, philosophy, science and technology studies, law, cultural astronomy, anthropology, media studies, literature, psychosocial studies and art, it closely examines how outer space is socially produced, experienced, perceived and imagined, and the significance of this for terrestrial social life.



“The volume achieves its purpose of providing an in-depth exploration. It also inspires debate in a field of study that is expanding as humans close the gaps among society, culture, and outer space. Summing Up: Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through researchers and faculty; professionals.” (R. I. Saltz, Choice, Vol. 54 (4), December, 2016)

It's a long observed paradox that while social science has made space a key analytic, it has been slow to theorise our relations with extra-terrestrial Space. Finally here is a volume that distils the finest new work on the sociality of outer space and Earth's orbit. This remarkable collection takes the canon of critical thinking to these most unfamiliar of environments, not only bringing outer space 'home' but questioning the cherished planetary boundaries that frame mainstream scholarship. The reach of social science has been ably extended.' - Fraser MacDonald, University of Edinburgh, UK


'This vital collection challenges us to think about "outer space" as much more than a wild blue yonder. Weaving together perspectives from sociology, economics, anthropology, geography, gender studies and the arts, this excellent new book approaches outer space as a dynamic and contested field rather than an ontological given. Its contributors offer meticulous and reflexive accounts of the spatial imaginaries, economics, technologies, and cultures that help to shape the earth's event horizon. Finally, a sobering yet stimulating take on outer space!' - Lisa Parks, University of California, USA


'The smaller Earth becomes, the larger the universe looms. Bringing Henri Lefebvre's noted triad – perçu, conçu, vécu – to the scholarly study of outer space, this comprehensive, thorough and stimulating anthology elevates the transdisciplinary discussion to a new level of theoretical sophistication and thus makes a substantial contribution to an academic field in the making. Anyone interested in the social production of outer space, whether as a place, a space or a phantasmagoria, will find The Palgrave Handbook of Society, Culture and Outer Space essential reading. Strongly recommended.'- Alexander C.T. Geppert, New York University, USA

About the authors

Peter Dickens is Visiting Senior Research Associate, University of Cambridge, UK. His main interests are in the relations between society and nature. Recent publications include Society and Nature (2004) and, with James Ormrod, Cosmic Society (2007). He continues work on the relations between society and the cosmos, with particular reference to the astronaut and visual cultures of outer space. He is a member of the Red-Green Study Group, London.

James S. Ormrod is Principal Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Brighton, UK. Rooted in psychosocial theory, his research focuses on social movements and on the relationship humans have with their environment and with the universe more generally. He is the author of Fantasy and Social Movements (2014) and, with Peter Dickens, Cosmic Society (2007).

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