Theory and Society

, Volume 35, Issue 5–6, pp 507–528 | Cite as

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

  • Seán Ó RiainEmail author


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.


Foreign Investment Work Organization Space Distanciation Software Industry Space Embedding 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Many thanks to Fred Block, Neil Brenner, Chris Chase-Dunn, Brian Conway, Mary Corcoran, Michel Peillon, Andrew Schrank, Eamonn Slater, and the Theory and Society Editors for comments and suggestions. Many thanks also to Michael Burawoy and Steve Lopez for discussions on earlier versions of this article.


  1. Arrighi, G., & Silver, B. (2001). Chaos and governance in the modern world system. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  2. Berman, M. (1982). All that is solid melts into air: The experience of modernity. London, UK: Penguin.Google Scholar
  3. Biggart, N., & Guillen, M. (1999). Developing difference: Social organization and the rise of the auto industries of South Korea, Taiwan, Spain, and Argentina. American Sociological Review, 64, 722–747.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Block, F. (2003). Karl Polanyi and the writing of The Great Transformation. Theory and Society, 32/3, 275–306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bluestone, B., & Harrison, B. (1982). The deindustrialization of America. New York, NY: Basic.Google Scholar
  6. Brenner, N. (1998). Global cities, global states: Global city formation and state territorial restructuring in contemporary Europe. Review of International Political Economy, 5/1, 1–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brenner, N. (2004). New state spaces. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Burawoy, M. (1985). The politics of production. London, UK: Verso.Google Scholar
  9. Burawoy, M. (2003). For a sociological Marxism: The complementary convergence of Antonio Gramsci and Karl Polanyi. Politics and Society, 31/2, 193–261.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Breznitz, D. (2002) Conceiving new industrial systems: The different emergence paths of the high-technology industry in Israel and Ireland. Science, technology and the economy program working paper series: STE-WP-11-2002. Samuel Neaman Institute for Advanced Studies, Technion: The Israeli Institute of Technology.Google Scholar
  11. Castells, M. (1997). The rise of the network society. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  12. Cerny, P. (1995). Globalization and the changing logic of collective action. International Organization, 49, 595–625.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Euristix (1991). The impact of communications on industry and industrial development in Ireland. Report to Industrial Policy Review Group, Dublin, Ireland.Google Scholar
  14. Freeman, C., & Louca, F. (2002). As time goes by: From the industrial revolutions to the information revolution. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Giddens, A. (1984). The constitution of society. Cambridge, MA: Polity.Google Scholar
  16. Giddens, A. (1991). The consequences of modernity. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  17. Hall, E. (1993). The electronic age: Telecommunication in Ireland. Dublin, Ireland: Oak Tree.Google Scholar
  18. Harvey, D. (1989). The condition of postmodernity. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  19. Hochschild, A. (1983). The managed heart. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  20. Jessop, B. (2000). The state and the contradictions of the knowledge driven economy. In J. R. Bryson, P. W. Daniels, N. D. Henry, & J. Pollard (Eds.), Knowledge, space, economy. London, UK: Routledge.Google Scholar
  21. Le Gales, P. (2002). European cities. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  22. Lester, R., & Piore, M. (2004). Innovation: The missing dimension. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  23. Lockwood, D. (1990). Schism and solidarity. Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
  24. Lundvall, B. A., Johnson, B., Andersen, E. S., & Dalum, B. (2002). National systems of production, innovation and competence building. Research Policy, 31/2, 213–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Massey, D. (1994). Space, Place and Gender. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  26. McChesney, R., Wood, E. M., & Foster, J. B. (Eds.) (1997). Capitalism and the information age. New York, NY: Monthly Review.Google Scholar
  27. Mjoset, L. (1992). The Irish economy in a comparative institutional perspective. National Economic and Social Council Report no. 93. Dublin, Ireland: NESC.Google Scholar
  28. O’Carroll, A. (2005). The long and the short: Working hours in the IT sector in Ireland. In G. Boucher & G. Collins (Eds.). The new world of work. Dublin: Liffey Press.Google Scholar
  29. OECD (1997). Information technology outlook 1996. Paris, France: OECD.Google Scholar
  30. Ó Riain, S. (2000). Net-working for a living: Irish software developers in the global workplace. In M. Burawoy et al. (Eds.), Global ethnography. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  31. Ó Riain, S. (2002). High-tech communities: Better work or just more work?. Context, 1/4, 36–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Ó Riain, S. (2004). The politics of high tech growth. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  33. Ó Riain, S., & O’Connell P. (2000). The role of the state in growth and welfare, chapter 16. In B. Nolan, P. O’Connell & C. Whelan (Eds.). Bust to boom? The irish experience of growth and inequality. Economic and Social Research Institute/Institute for Public Administration, Dublin.Google Scholar
  34. Perez, C. (2002). Technological revolutions and financial capital: The dynamics of bubbles and golden ages. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
  35. Piore, M. (1996). Review of the handbook of economic sociology. Journal of Economic Literature, 34, 741–754.Google Scholar
  36. Piore, M., & Sabel, C. (1984). The second industrial divide. New York, NY: Basic.Google Scholar
  37. Polanyi, K. (1944[2001]). The great transformation. Boston, MA: Beacon.Google Scholar
  38. Polanyi, K. (1977). The livelihood of man. New York, NY: Academic.Google Scholar
  39. Reich, R. (1991). The work of nations. New York, NY: Vintage.Google Scholar
  40. Ruggie, J. G. (1982). International regimes, transactions and change: Embedded liberalism in the postwar economic order. International Organization, 36, 379–415.Google Scholar
  41. Saxenian, A. (1994). Regional advantage: Culture and competition in silicon valley and route 128. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  42. Saxenian, A. (2006). The new argonauts. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Scott, A. J. (1993). Technopolis. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  44. Shaiken, H. (1990). Mexico in the global economy. San Diego, CA: Center for US–Mexican Studies.Google Scholar
  45. Storper, M. (1997). The regional world: Territorial development in a global economy. London, UK: Guilford.Google Scholar
  46. Tilly, C., & Tilly, C. (1994). Work and labour markets. Handbook of economic sociology. Princeton: Russell Sage.Google Scholar
  47. Williamson, O. (1985). The economic institutions of capitalism: Firms, markets, relational contracting. New York, NY: Free Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+ Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sociology DepartmentNational University of IrelandCo. KildareIreland

Personalised recommendations