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Towards a sociology of time-space compression.

May, Jonathan Roger; (1995) Towards a sociology of time-space compression. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

It has been argued that Western experiences of time and space are radically changing and that these changes, signalling a new round of time-space compression, may be underpinning a wider shift from the 'modern' to the 'postmodern'. Processes of globalisation, for example, are commonly argued to be disrupting traditional modes of spatial distinction through which a secure 'sense of place' is constructed, whilst new work practices are understood to be leading to a newly insecure sense of time. A polarised literature has characterised the experience of these changes as being both universal and either wholly 'good' or 'bad'. Using in-depth qualitative interviews with a range of white respondents from an ethnically diverse area of inner London, the thesis challenges these grand and universal claims. Whilst the literature continues to engage with these issues only at the highest level of theoretical abstraction, the thesis shows how a careful analysis of people's accounts, drawn from transcript material gathered during extended fieldwork, can in fact reveal much about how such abstract processes are negotiated in people's day-to-day lives. It relates these changes to everyday experience, analyzing, for example, the use of communication technology, the consumption of 'exotic' food, and some experiences of these new work practices. It illustrates the experiences of differently empowered social actors and constructs a sociology of time-space compression around the positions of ethnicity, class and gender. It draws particular attention to the experiences of members of a new cultural class. It is members of this class who are at the cutting edge of processes of time-space compression, and who inhabit a particularly ambiguous position in relation to the epistemological challenges of postmodernism. It uses their experiences to establish a 'test case' for future research. The thesis concludes that the experience of such change differs markedly for different people and that for any individual the diverse processes of time-space compression may offer both positive and negative experiences. It examines some of the mechanisms through which people are 'handling' such change and suggests that these processes are less disorientating than is often assumed. It concludes that far from signalling any fundamental shift to less exclusionary systems of thought, current restructurings should in fact be understood as re-inscribing the traditional power relations of the 'modern'.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Towards a sociology of time-space compression.
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10103921
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