chapter  4
23 Pages

A sense of place

As we suggested in Chapte r 2, it has become commonplace to suggest tha t we live in a globalizing world. This implies that all places and all people are increasingly tied in to globa l structures and institutions (such as transnational corporations or the United Na tions), where we experience 'time-space comp ression' (the world appears to get smaller because travel and communication are faster and cheaper than in the past ) and where comm unications via mobile telephones, satellites and the Internet can ove rcome the 'barriers' of distance which once restricted human interrelationships. While suggestions of globalization can be disputed on the grounds that they don't take into account those people who do not have access to intercon tinental travel or computers (many people in so-called Less Developed Countries, for exa mple, or deprived socia l groups in wea lthy countries), it is certainly the case that 'b ig business' and communications technology have permeated many parts of the world, leading to the global extension of parti cular landscapes, econo mic systems (especially of monetary exchange) and social practices (in relation to musical and fashion tastes, for example). It could possibly be argued (but not in this book!) that 'everywhere is becoming the same' as a result of processes of globalization. As we discussed in Chapter 2, the implication here is that places, as individual and unique entities, may be wiped out and rendered meaningless in a globalized world where the same styles of building, economic activities, leisure activities and so on appear everywhere. The concept of the 'non-place' has arisen from the feeling that the authentically locally specific has been erased in favour of places like international airports which look very much the same everywhere (Auge, 1995). As Benko (1997, 23) suggests, 'Never before in the history of the world have

4.2 • Regional

non-places occupied so much space' . Given these ideas, what are we to make of the concept of 'place' ?