Moral geographies of social justice and the city : theologies, spatialities and spiritualities in urban Scotland
The emerging geographical research field of moral geography is charting out new connections between geography and ethics. To date, the moral geographical literature has developed a theoretical apparatus for exploring the geography-ethics nexus, and has undertaken a number of empirical investigations into a diverse range of issues, particularly social justice. A sphere with which moral geography has had little contact, however, is that of the religious. In spite of Western secularism, religion remains a key feature of social and cultural relations that is practised by the majority of the world's population. Likewise, for a significant minority of the population in Scotland, the Christian religion continues to be a key source of meaning, identity praxis and ethics. This thesis aims to fill the gap in the moral geographical literature by bringing together discourses on theology, geography, morality and social justice in an original manner. By looking at a specific set of moral geog raphies of social justice and the city, I will chart out the ways in which Scotland's churches address poverty and social exclusion in the urban sphere, through the research context of the city of Glasgow. By analysing the contribution that the churches, theologies and religion make to the pursuit of social justice, I will look especially at the manner in which theological ethics of social justice and poverty are conceptualised, translated, and mobilised into a specific spatial context. In doing so, and by engaging with the academic discipline of theology, this thesis proposes a framework of moral geographical processes and tensions and utilises a scalar approach to analysis. By testing out this framework at urban, community and body scales against the empirical realities of the city of Glasgow and its poor inhabitants, the thesis has generated a number of conclusions that are transferable to the study of moral geographies more widely. Its overall contribution is to illuminate the complex nature of Christian theological moral geographies of social justice and the city, and to offer a religious perspective, a scalar framework and a process- and tension-based approach to the development of wider moral geographical theory and praxis.