chapter  5
The politics of difference
Pages 17

In many ways political geography has been turned on its head since the early 1990s. Influenced by a whole series of powerful writings in cultural geography (Harvey, 1989; Jackson, 1989), the focus has moved from order and certainty, and a search for clearly defined patterns, to the individuality of people and the multitude of continuously shifting relationships in which they are engaged. The acknowledgement of the importance of what is termed difference leads to the acceptance of a state of chronic instability in society, which is extremely difficult to accommodate within any ordered political framework. It is argued that difference is an all-pervasive feature of postmodern society, unsettling most apparent certainties and throwing into question any stable sense of identity (Jackson, 2000, p. 174). Philip Crang goes even further, arguing that the world of difference undermines any sense of authenticity, replacing it with a world of displacement and dislocation (Crang, P., 1996; Crang, M., 1998). This postmodern reformulation is of crucial importance for two reasons. First, it breaks the apparently inseparable link between identity and place. People’s sense of place is in a constant state of flux and has become increasingly global in its reach (Massey, 1995). Second, it removes any limits as to what constitutes a sense of place and a sense of identity. In the new world view, the ties binding people together are almost infinite in their variety and, as a result, are never something that can remotely be taken for granted.