How globalisation processes are transforming all perceptions of space and time

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Last updated: April 7, 2019

Globalisation is a large and important part of today’s societies around the world. It affects everybody.

No society on earth any longer lives incomplete separation from other, and even in the world’s wealthiest countries, people are dependent upon goods, which have been produced and transported from abroad. This can be said to be a result of space and time. The importance of globalisation is that of the way in which countries are linked and interact, and become reliant upon eachother.In this essay I intend to identify the processes of globalisation, followed by the identification of space and time within globalisation and from this I’m going to look at how peoples perceptions relate to my findings. From doing this in such a way I believe it will produce a clear way of interpreting the answer to the question. Before we can establish connections between people’s perceptions of space and time, we need to determine where the development of the idea of space and time came from, and also what it means. Five concepts have been developed from globalisation theories.One common notion, which has conceived of globalisation, is in terms of ‘internationalisation’.

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From this perspective ‘global’ is simply another way to describe cross-border relations between countries, and ‘globalisation’ designates a growth of international exchange and interdependence (Scholte). The second is liberalization; globalisation here is referring to a process of removing government-imposed restrictions on movements between countries. This is on order to create what is seen as an ‘open’, ‘borderless’ world economy.These are only two of the five concepts, but already we can establish a link with space and time (Scholte).

As we look further into definitions of globalisation, we notice that a lot of these definitions include the words such as ‘borderless’, ‘one world’, and ‘global society’. Keniichi Ohmae describes the world as ‘the borderless world’. This phrase captures the sense of radical progress and the modernity of this.

Robertson defines globalisation as a concept: “…

which refers to both to the compression of the world and the intensification of consciousness of the world as a whole.. ” (Robertson: 1992:8)From this I would interpret that Robertson is saying that the world is ‘one single place’. What it means to live in this place, and how it must be ordered, become universal questions. These questions receive different answers from individuals and societies that define their position in relation to both a system of societies and the shared properties of humankind from very different perspectives. The confrontation of their worldviews means that globalisation involves “comparative interaction of different forms of life” (Robertson). A general term for the increasing interdependence of world society is Globalisation.

The social, political and economic connections, which cut borders between countries decisively, condition the fate of those living within each of them (Giddens). Hirst and Thompson go on to say that it is widely asserted that we live in an era in which the greater part of social life is determined by global processes in which national cultures, national economies and national borders are dissolving. These definitions show a common theory.

The idea that the world is becoming one and that countries are beginning to merge, is also common with this theory. This merge of a ‘global society’ has four dimensions.Political, cultural, economical and technological. These four dimensions are results of space and time (Spybey).

Technology appears to be a recent dimension, even though the technological dimension of globalisation has been developing over the last 200 years. It is now at its peak with the Internet being one of the most major factors contributing to worldwide access. A US scientist whom worked for the military first developed the Internet in the late 1960’s. In the late 1980’s it was still used as business base. It becomes more public within the 1990’s.The major increase has been in the last ten years. Another one of the most recent technological advances are geostationary satellites. These satellites transmit data from all over the world to other satellites and information can travel across the world in seconds.

Space in this factor is of no issue. The Americans produced the first satellites in 1962. This enabled processes to move more rapidly. The people drive this technology. Failure in this technology can disrupt globalisation. Many geographers have drawn upon physical measures, which alter relationships between time and space.They talk of the impact of disappearing transport barriers ranging from transport such as stagecoaches prior to 1850’s and then to jet aircrafts in the 1960’s (Cable).

Globalisation is most advanced here, in the economic dimension, for analysts. The globalisation within the economic dimension is of trader, production, and the finance market. The world is made up of 181 countries and out of those 130 -140 of those countries trade with every other country in the world.

Multinational Companies (MNC’s) are expanding and trading all over the world.Economy has benefited extraordinarily from globalisation and this has a clear link with space and time. Due to the space and time theory, companies are able to set up offices and businesses abroad. Due to the dissolve of borders and barriers it is now far easier to relocate businesses in more suitable and ‘attractive’ areas. Technological advances have had a high input into this spread of economy due to transportation, advanced computer systems, and communication technology.

This enables companies to communicate across the world without travel, and distance, ‘space’, being of any obstacle.Due to distance/space being of no problem because of technological advances, people’s concentration is on time, and how quickly something can be achieved. These technological changes and developments are at the centre of globalisation; the advances in communications and transport are what fuel globalisation and help it to ‘run its course’.

Within the political dimension there is an issue about national governments. Globalisation is been said to be making the world ‘one’, which mean the nations will disappear, what will happen to national governments? There are debates whether our governments can look after our economic demands and safety.An example of the dissolve of nations is the European Union. The EU makes laws and passes agreements, which affect high countries for example France, and Poland. This regional bloc is not the only one.

It was created in the late twentieth century. This idea has caught on and other parts of the world are creating their own ‘bloc’. There are institutions of world government, the United Nations is part of this and holds 181 countries. The UN tries to bring countries together to find common consensus. Is there a possible future of an emergence of a world government? The final dimension is culture.

We hear references to the idea of global culture.Even though there is slight evidence of this I don’t think that it is going to occur. Westernisation is occurring where culture of the western side of the world is beginning to have an effect on the rest of the world. This is due to America having a lot of power within the world and many of Americans ways of living are being spread over the world.

Cultural groups will always hold on to their culture even if they do start to adapt to westernisation. They will always have cultural roots. Globalisation has created cultural interaction. This can be seen as a result of economics, due to people migrating to areas of employment.If this move is seen to benefit members of society then others will follow sometimes causing a large cultural society to move. Many say that culture is becoming one, a ‘global culture’. This resulted from countries borders fading away and illusions of countries beginning to merge. The idea of westernisation is also linked to a global culture.

With Western European countries and America becoming dominant powers and having large input into the world’s economy, it is seen to be having an influence on the country it is interacting with. There are three different theories relaying to time and space within globalisation.The first of the three being ‘time – space convergence’, this is described as places becoming closer together in time and the distance is of less bother. Giddens describes this as the process whereby distances become ‘shortened in time’, as the speed of modes of transportation increases, ‘the shrinking society’. ‘Time – space distantiation’ is where simultaneous activities are occurring in different places, from local connections to global events. The final is ‘time-space compression’ which is a reduction in the gap between time and space, there are more stresses and it becomes a faster pace of life.In his book, The constitution of society 1984, Giddens defines time-space distantiation as the ‘stretching’ of social systems over time-space on the basis of various mechanisms of social and system integration. It has been said that Giddens’s notion of distantiation had been criticised on the grounds that it does not consider important differences in the organisation of time-space in modern societies; he fails to conceptualise time and space resources; it does not analyse travel, such as tourism, as temporal play (Abercrombie et al).

There have been many discussions over ‘time’ and ‘space’ during the last twentieth century, Marx had previously written about his ideas of time and space in the mid nineteenth century. His ideas were that advances in technology were helping capitalism to expand. Today the issues of time and space or more related to issues of speed and how quickly people and items can get from one place to another. This is related to the theory of ‘time-space convergence’ (Cable). Transformations of our perceptions of time and space are central to what we think about globalisation.

These transformations can be things such as when something happens on one side of the world and we suddenly receive a news flash of it on the other. Even though the incident has not affected us one to one, it has affected us thought the means of media and communication. An example of this would be the September 11th attack in America. If there was no such link with America via media links then we would not of known the incident had occurred until a few days later because of the time it would have taken to get the new to us over that distance, space.People become increasingly aware of interconnections, things happening beyond their control in other countries. This shows the awareness that people have over time-space theories. The process of time-space compression is not gradual and continuous but occurs in short and intense bursts during which the world changes rapidly and uncertainty increases (Waters).

Harvey attributes these bursts to crises of over-accumulation in the capitalist system. From my reading and my essay I have found that people are unaware of their perceptions of time and space.Much of what they experience within their lives whether its via, radio, television, or newspapers is all to do with time and space within the globalisation process. The news that they read is from across the world and it is news that only occurred a small space of time ago before it was printed. When people go to a supermarket to purchase groceries they do not think that the items in their basket are from different countries around the world, in theory they are shopping in a ‘world wide supermarket’, and that this is due to globalisation processes of time and space.It’s also the same issue when somebody who is using the Internet, after having searched for something retrieves the reliable information they require from all over the world.

I believe that it is an invisible process, and unless that person is involved with matters that link to space and time or it has been brought to their awareness they are not going to recognise the processes. From this I mean that people who own businesses and are wealthy within economy, are able to produce the same goods but at a cheaper price due to being able to retrieve materials and trading with other countries.The main issues with time and space are those in which space or distance is irrelevant.

With technological advances anything is possible. The issue is now at what speed can we travel these distances? Barriers of distance have collapsed and the whole world is now only an arms length away. It’s all well and good to talk about perceptions and transformations of time and space.

But are they uniform? I think they are consistent throughout the same groups of people. The businessman will all look upon time and space as an advantage to them and will take up every opportunity that comes along.With ‘ordinary people’ I believe that the perception is invisible and that the technology that is available to us, for example flights to other countries, and exotic foods, is all taken for granted. The processes involved are not explained to them. Overall when brought to our attention, or when we are actively involved in these processes, then I believe that our perceptions will alter.

Otherwise the ‘ordinary people’ of the world are oblivious to changes and the processes that are occurring.

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