chapter  1
Pages 31

A Southern Italian family sits around the lunch table watching a British sitcom. They are amused and comment on the exotic domestic arrangements of the characters on the screen. The discussion rapidly turns to their own lives and to the relative merits of life 'in the South' as opposed to life 'in the North'. At the very moment that representatives of the Mexican government signed the treaty linking their country to the USA and Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Zapatista rebellion exploded in the state of Chiapas. Reclaiming the mantle of the hero of the Mexican Revolution from the governing Institutional Revolutionary Party, the Zapatista movement has ably used the international media and the internet to publicise its cause. In a small town in France 242 workers in a Japanese hi-fi assembly factory lose their jobs when the company decides to relocate to Scotland because of its appealing profile of longer working hours, worker docility and lower rates of pay. Some of the women who will soon be unemployed predict that the company will move again, abandoning Scotland for more favourable conditions - probably in Asia-once the European Union subsidies run out. These randomly chosen and quite different situations all reflect aspects of the condition of 'being globalised' (Bauman 1998) that in one way or another affects us all. One of the more immediate effects of this condition is the experience of living through rapidly changing circumstances, largely beyond our control.