Theory and Society

, Volume 35, Issue 5, pp 507-528

First online:

Time–space intensification: Karl Polanyi, the double movement, and global informational capitalism

  • Seán Ó RiainAffiliated withSociology Department, National University of Ireland Email author 

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This article advances the concept of “time–space intensification” as an alternative to existing notions of time–space distanciation, compression and embedding that attempt to capture the restructuring of time and space in contemporary advanced capitalism. This concept suggests time and space are intensified in the contemporary period – the social experience of time and space becomes more explicit and more crucial to socio-economic actors’ lives, time and space are mobilized more explicitly in individual and corporate action, and the institutionalization of time and space becomes more politicized. Drawing on Polanyi’s concepts of fictitious commodities and the double movement, and developing them through an analysis of work organization and economic development in the Irish software industry, the article argues that the concept of time–space intensification can add significantly to our understanding of key features of the restructuring of the temporal and spatial basis of economic development and work organization.