REFLECTION PAPER (AGAINST) THE SPACES AND TIMES OF GLOBALIZATION: PLACE, SCALE, NETWORKS, AND POSITIONALITY
BY ERIC SHEPHARD
I. Summary of the Paper & Thematic Idea
The word “positionality” comes for the first time in epistemology, the discipline of philosophy concerned with how we come to know what we know. When positionality was coined in the mid-1920s, term did not refer to social or political factors, but to the location of objects in space in relation to other objects—the nature of their position. During the 1960s progressive movements, sociologists, anthropologists, and other social scientists began to ponder whether such a thing as objective observation existed.
The paper’s main point is that positionality between time and place is still an important feature of today’s globalisation processes. It proposes that paying attention to positionality may impact how we think about globalisation and strategies for altering its trajectory. That focus on positionality demonstrates that space is not becoming less important as a consequence of globalisation, nor is it less important than time. There is substantial evidence that time is moving faster in absolute terms and that a given distance may be covered more quickly. Time and space, on the other hand, are not absolutes. There is no persuasive evidence that positional inequalities are decreasing within our current space/time measures.
It contends that livelihood alternatives are determined by positionality as well as local, place-bound factors. Positionality has the potential to have far-reaching policy repercussions. If positionality is important, no amount of tinkering with local conditions will result in growth. As a consequence, increased interterritorial competition may not necessarily result in a tide that lifts all boats; rather, it may result in a “race to the bottom” in which the most desperate areas compete on the basis of labour and environmental exploitation, bringing others down with them.
As a consequence, the authors argue that positionality has implications for the creation of resistance strategies, which is an endeavour to improve the positionality of individuals who oppose globalisation in relation to those who embrace it in order to equal globalization’s worldwide reach. Moving up and down the social ladder isn’t enough to form effective alliances; they also need to discover particular groups in specific places with whom they share beliefs and interests.
II. Motion against the Views of the Author
Positionality is the manifestation of the reality that one’s social, historical, political, and cultural surroundings impact one’s self-identity; how one is in connection to others, and how one sees and defines oneself in relation to the world.
Cairncross has spent a significant amount of time and energy in recent years refuting the notion that globalisation and omnipresent neoliberal capitalism imply the extinction of distance and the extinction of geography. Alternatively, others have questioned the basic definition of globalisation, contending that to identify globalisation with the presently prevalent neoliberal capitalist variation is to join its proponents in concealing alternative, anti-capitalist forms of globalisation. Despite the hoopla surrounding globalisation, the broad geographical boundaries of positionality within the global economy exhibit a remarkable degree of persistence in their dependency on route dependence. Significant effort has been expended in lowering communication costs, delivering commodities to geographically separated markets, and recovering investments as quickly as possible. Additionally, efforts have been expended in harmonising state regulation and opening national markets worldwide to the public. The past two decades of globalisation may be characterised as a time of rapid, broader-ranging, more intense and impactful global interconnectedness, as well as a period of increased global interdependence. In absolute terms, the planet is becoming smaller and quicker.
The term “globalisation” was popular in the 1990s. It refers to a world that is more interconnected than ever before thanks to advances in technology, increased commerce, and the movement of people, ideas, and wealth across borders. Things move quicker in a globalising society. As transportation and communication improve, even the most isolated locations become more easily accessible. The same products and services can be purchased anywhere with the same money, and they can be produced everywhere. Transactions in money, the movement of people across national and cultural borders (such as via tourism), social issues, fashion and cultural objects) all transcend these barriers.
Geographical writing has always been a highly ideological and thoroughly politicised kind of analysis, which is ironic in and of itself. Sometimes the conceptual baggage of considering the territorial state as given is still there when approaching global processes. By taking this understanding and supposing that the geography of the state and hence of territorialized state regulation is not set in stone, regulation outside the state ceases to be a denial of this fixed geography.
Affective positionality may be attributed to actors working at sizes ranging from the individual to the global community. Positionality is not solely a function of territorial structures, regions, or places. In addition to existing geographic differences in positionality, the actions of positionally advantaged agents, possibly developed Western ‘senders’ who control networks of relationships that simultaneously position ‘others,’ possibly less developed Eastern ‘receivers,’ in a present and potentially future state of compliance or dependence, may exacerbate the situation.
Among the most pernicious of the many globalisation myths that continue to spread are those about its geography, most notably the assertions that we are seeing “the death of distance” and “the end of geography.” Such assertions very certainly include a grain of truth. Indeed, technological advancements in transportation and communications have compressed time-space. However, although the globe has decreased in relative terms, this contraction has been and continues to be exceedingly unequal. While the world’s top economies and big cities are being drawn closer together in terms of relative time and expense, others—less industrialised nations or smaller towns and rural areas—are being left behind. The time-space surface is very malleable; some areas contract while others expand in relative terms. By no means does transportation technology help everyone. In that regard, the globe is very definitely not flat.
According to the free trade philosophy, positionality will be irrelevant in a space economy in which distinctions based on location are amplified. Local comparative advantage is used by specialising in and exporting items that overcome uneven labour, capital, knowledge, and resource endowments. High transportation costs imposed by distance or stupid national trade restrictions are said to be the main impediments, although environmental determinism advocates have lately included tropicality to the list of impediments.
Positionality is best exemplified by the degree and kind of interdependencies that link economic actors through geography and time as a relational feature. In contrast to physical closeness, where interactions are considered to be symmetric, positionality often involves asymmetric relationships: central actors have greater influence over peripherally positioned agents than vice versa.
The intricacy of charting social interactions in geographic space is being further compounded by current globalization’s space-transcending technology and institutions. It was only after humans invented the telegraph that information could travel faster than they could that it was separated from the space–time continuum. Communication technology has gone a long way toward making it possible for people to communicate with others who are located in different parts of the world nearly instantly. In trying to generalise from bodies to locations, the multiscale character of positionality presents a unique obstacle. If people in a territory have the same positionality, then the location where they live has this quality as well.
Cities are heterogeneous: its citizens vary greatly in their positionality, both inside the city and via their different relationships that extend outside the city limits. As feminist theory has shown, even families include considerable inequalities in positionality, reflecting differences in gender, age, and power asymmetries amongst its members, as well as differences in economic status. The abundance of anecdotal data suggests that gaps in access to modes of mobility and communication are growing inequities in positionality among persons and within the communities in which they reside.
Some inhabitants in any area have been able to take advantage of the mobility of the global economy to drastically increase their livelihood opportunities, whilst the majority have not, in ways that have made a noteworthy impact to the trajectory of globalisation, regardless of where they live. According to the digital divide theory; differences in positionality from one home to the next may be rising as a result of who has access to telecommunications technology. Indeed, some have gone so far as to say that the internet is rendering physical space as well as time obsolete, a claim that others have strongly disputed.
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Author: Saathi Mukherjee,
O.P. Jindal Global Law School