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Implications: From Space to Action and from Action to the Spatiality of Action
The approach suggested in this chapter opens up an alternative perspective on many current societal issues, including the global financial crisis, global migration, and sociocultural integration. They can be understood as consequences of the at least potential, continuing, spatiotemporal disembedding of social, cultural, and economic realities in the course of the Digital Revolution. The spatial ties of social practices are at least selective and no longer of the same encompassing nature as those in the predigital age. They are the result of practices of appropriation and socially produced spatiality rather than a quasi-natural condition.
The aforementioned societal issues can be interpreted as manifestations of the mismatch between the spatiotemporal shaping of societality and the logics of control governing that societality. In other words, the above societal issues arise when society-space relationships have changed or are in the process of changing to a new modus operandi while politics is still operating according to the logics established in the previous modus operandi. The increasing disintegration becomes evident in the continued use of territorial strategies (e.g., territorial wars or national financial policy) to dispel problematic consequences of a-territorial networks with fluid place-bound nodes (e.g., terrorism or digital financial capitalism).
Analyzing sociocultural realities from the geographical perspective outlined in this chapter emancipates the spatial from the temporal dimension. Hagerstrand’s (1970) time geography has shown that the time required to perform corporeal actions correlates with spatial order. In other words, new society-space relationships always imply new society-time relationships, and society-space relationships therefore also represent space-time relationships.
Including actors’ corporeality and the physical conditions of actions in the analytical perspective means that time no longer takes precedence over space. The acceleration of social life is thus an expression of the altered conditions of coping with spatiality and ultimately leads to action in global contexts in quasi simultaneity. The space-time relationships are at the basis of a reconceptualization of social theory.
In order to understand the significance of the revolution in the spatial and temporal conditions of the social dimension—or of globalization and acceleration (Rosa, 2013) with regard to the circumstances relevant to everyday action—they are to be thought of as two sides of the same coin. Whereas globalization denotes the spatial reach of one’s action in real time, acceleration refers to its consequences for the frequency of decisions in social interaction. Thinking of globalization and acceleration as two sides of the same coin enables one to track the societal consequences of reshaping society-space relationships.
This geographical perspective opens up new approaches to issues of sustainability and the analysis of human practices according to ecological criteria. The notion of life and society being literally contained in biological habitats can be overcome with the concept of world incorporation. The a priori container space that was conventionally assumed to exist independently of human experience and social practice—from Haeckel and the ecopolicies based on his ideas to the UN sustainability policies a la the Brundtland Report (World Commission on Environment and Development, 1987)—no longer has to be the criterion for survival or extinction and for calculations of so-called carrying capacity. Focusing on world incorporation means turning the perspective upside down: Human action is privileged above habitat (Earth), so sustainability politics and ecopolitics can be rid of biologistic thinking, which usually puts them in the vicinity of traditional geopolitics. This accounting for society-space relationships makes it possible for an original approach without naturalistic reductionisms to be developed (Becker & Jahn, 2006) with ecological practices (Gabler, 2015) rather than ecotopes at its center. Such reorientation is a consequence of the geographical turn from space to practice.
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