Doreen Massey critiqued the idea of time-space compression in her discussion of globalization and its effect on our society. She insisted that any ideas that our world is "speeding up" and "spreading out" should be placed within local social contexts. "Time-space compression", she argues, "needs differentiating socially": "the ways in which people are placed within 'time-space compression' are complicated and extremely varied". In effect, Massey is critical of the notion of "time-space compression" as it represents capital's attempts to erase the sense of the local and masks the dynamic social ways through which places remain "meeting places".[5]

For Moishe Postone,[6] Harvey's treatment of space-time compression and postmodern diversity are merely reactions to capitalism. Hence Harvey's analysis remains "extrinsic to the social forms expressed" by the deep structure concepts of capital, value and the commodity. For Postone, the postmodern moment is not necessarily just a one-sided effect of the contemporary form of capitalism but can also be seen as having an emancipatory side if it happened to be part of a post-capitalism. And because postmodernism usually neglects its own context of embeddedness it can legitimate capitalism as postmodern, whereas at the level of deep structure it may in fact be more concentrated, with large capitals that, accumulate rather than diverge, and with an expansion of commodification niches with fewer buyers.

Postone asserts that one cannot step outside capitalism and declare it a pure evil or as a one-dimensional badness, since the emancipatory content of such things as equal distribution or diversity are potentials of capitalism itself in its abundant and diverse productive powers. This initial perspective misfires however, when forms of society such as modernity and subsequently postmodernism take itself as the true whole of life for being oppositional to capitalism, when in fact they are grounded in the reproduction of the same capitalist relations that created them.


  1. Marx, Karl. Grundrisse. Penguin Classics, 1993. pp. 539.
  2. Harvey, David. The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1990.
  3. Decron, Chris. Speed-Space. Virilio Live. Ed. John Armitage. London: Sage, 2001. 69–81.
  4. May, Jon and Nigel Thrift. "Introduction." TimeSpace: Geographies of Temporality. NY: Routledge, 2001. pp. 1–46.
  5. Massey, Doreen (1994). "A Global Sense of Place". Space, Place, and Gender. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0816626162.
  6. Postone, Moishe. "Theorizing the Contemporary World: Robert Brenner, Giovanni Arrighi, David Harvey" in Political Economy of the Present and Possible Global Future(s), Anthem Press, 2007.

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