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Martina Löw earned her doctoral degree in 1993 with a dissertation titled "Raum Ergreifen" [Taking Space - Women who live alone between the Poles of Work, Social Relationships and the Culture of Self] supervised by Marianne Rodenstein from Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main. In 2000 she completed her post-doctoral qualification (habilitation) at the faculty of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences at Martin-Luther University in Halle-Wittenberg. For her habilitation thesis on the sociology of space she was awarded the Christian-Wolff Prize. Löw taught and conducted research as professor of sociology at the Darmstadt University of Technology from 2002 until 2013, specialising in space-related social analysis, urban and regional sociology, women’s and gender studies. Since August 2013 she is professor for the sociology of planning and architecture at the Technical University of Berlin. At an earlier stage of her career, she held the position of assistant professor at the Martin Luther University of Halle/Saale, was a researcher at the famous Institute of Social Research in Frankfurt am Main, and visiting professor at the Technical Universities of Berlin and Darmstadt.
In 2001, Löw published a Sociology of space, which understands the origination of space as a social phenomenon that depends of societal developments. Löw understands space as a relational ordering of social goods and living beings that is generated by the synthesis and placing of these elements. Such a processual concept of space contrasts with the view that has hitherto prevailed in sociology of space as a rigid backdrop to social processes. On this basis, Löw is conducting empirical research into how spatial constructions change in and through electronic networks. Other focuses of research are “space, power, and social differentiation” and ethnographic urban studies.
In the field of urban research, a range of studies in the topic areas "public security" and "theatre and city" have been carried out. An empirical study on the interactional web of space and gender that examines prostitution in Frankfurt am Main complements the topic area. Among her latest research ventures is the analysis of the intrinsic logic of cities. The intrinsic logic of cities refers to a complex ensemble of knowledge stocks and forms of expression which interrelate internally, are based on rule-governed, routinized and resource-stabilised forms of action and which condense cities into provinces of meaning.
In 2008 Löw became senior coordinator of the University of Technology Darmstadt’s and the University of Applied Sciences’ joint project “Intrinsic Logic of Cities”, sponsored by the Land Hesse’s Ministry of Economics and Arts to promote scientific and economic excellence. “Intrinsic Logic” is a heuristic term trying to conceptualise and capture the specific and “typical” characteristics and qualities of a city, as well as the tacit meaning-making processes shaping its "image" and contributing to "making sense" of it. The objective is to ultimately work out the fundamental structures shaping a particular city, and to better understand relations, similarities and differences between cities. The method of choice is comparative research between cities.
It is a fresh approach to urban studies that differs fundamentally from other sociological perspectives, which usually take the city under investigation as a given fact(or) requiring no further research, instead of scrutinising its basic formative structures and processes. The focus on the intrinsic logic puts the city itself centrestage and explores its overall make-up in a holistic way in its physical, relational and symbolic dimensions.
Books and articles
- Löw, Martina (2007), Raumsoziologie. Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Taschenbuch Wissenschaft, 4th Edition.
- Löw, Martina; Steets, Silke; Stoetzer, Sergej (2007), Einführung in die Stadt- und Raumsoziologie. Opladen: Barbara Budrich.
- Löw, Martina (2008), "The Constitution of Space: The Structuration of Spaces Through the Simultaneity of Effects and Perception", in: European Journal of Social Theory 1, 11.
- Löw, Martina (2012): The Intrinsic Logic of Cities: Towards a New Theory on Urbanism, in: Urban Research & Practice Vol. 5/3. p. 303-315.
- Löw, Martina (2012): «Être-noir» (Blackness) - Une pratique collective à Salvador da Bahia: Faire de la sociologie urbaine après le «cultural turn», in: Articulo - Journal of Urban Research 8, online since 29 June 2012, http://articulo.revues.org/2039
- Löw, Martina (2013): The City as Experiential Space: The Production of Shared Meaning, in: International Journal of Urban and Regional Research Vol. 37/3, p. 894-908.
- Barthet, Stella Borg (2009-12-20). Shared waters: soundings in postcolonial literatures. Rodopi. pp. 153–. ISBN 978-90-420-2766-4. Retrieved 17 June 2011.
- Dong, Andy; Moere, Andrew Vande; Gero, John S. (2007-12-20). Computer-aided architectural design futures (CAADFutures) 2007: proceedings of the 12th International CAAD Futures Conference. Springer. pp. 212–. ISBN 978-1-4020-6527-9. Retrieved 17 June 2011.