Ideas, Insights and Rambles.

A blog by Lindsey Fair

Space Loyalities Gone Digital

Our greatest comfort lies in the places we live, and through the production of our social spaces, we derive our sense of belonging to that place, creating a strong city feeling of loyalty to and hunger for a city to live in (Harvey, 1989a; Raban, 2017). Places are important, and urban dwellers cling to the nostalgic signs, objects, badges, and codes of the city, that act as mappable benchmarks only meaningful to individual interpretations (Gregory, 1994; Harvey, 1989a; Leszczynski, 2015; Raban, 2017).


We are experiencing a shift in how city spaces and the spaces between cities are organized in response to the shrinkages of space and time and the growth machine drive for unearthing competitive advantage of place (Allen, Massey & Pile, 2005; Harvey, 1989b). In a world seized by time-space compression, where everything has sped up, so space and distance no longer matter, anchoring to old places is a way our continuous past is bearable (Harvey, 1989a; Sheppard, 2008; Zukin, 1989).


A third space, comprising cultural hybridity, a mixing of different perspectives into a digital bricolage with no divergence between the virtual and the real, has emerged with the onset of digital media (Nayak & Jeffrey, 2013; Leszczynski, 2015). These digital, imagined communities provide a sense of belonging comparable to that of physical space. They are creating attachments despite actors never having met each other. They are developing an architected space through spacelessness (Anderson, 1991; Boyd, 2008; Jonas, McCann, & Thomas, 2015; Sheppard, 2008). In turn, the digital shadows created through geotagged content in digital media create a sense of place and, at the same time, then are space-making (Leszczysnki, 2015).


Digital media, and in particular, social media, is performative and referent. People become fetished actors, putting on a show for themselves and others, focusing on surface appearances and fleeting moments as spectacles, all while relishing in the optical detachment that digital media affords them (Gregory, 1994; Harvey, 1989b; Putnam, 2001; Raban, 2017). At the same time, Gregory (1994) points out that images make it possible to challenge the historical understanding of spaces, landscape and geographies. The simulacra of daily life, the bringing together of the world’s geography into one platform – the platform economy is instigating global, and in turn glocal, ideologies based on status-seeking, image-making, and the commodification of the instantaneous (Gregory, 1994; Rodgers, 2009; Zukin, 1989). So although there was loyalty to this new third space, and we know from above that it is space-making, is it still creating the city, the spaces, that we want to live in or have we now in a world of Zoom lost our sense of place and loyalty to spaces?


**For those finding this under the higher ed management category and wondering why - destination (what used to be referred to as residential) institutions where students stay en masse in or near the campus replicate the sense of belonging akin to a city. So re-read this but replace 'city' with 'campus' and the story and questions remain the same.



References


Allen, J., Massey, D., & Pile, S. (2005). City worlds. Routledge.


Anderson, B. R. O. (1991). Imagined communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism (rev. and extend ed.). London: Verso.


Boyd, D. (2008). How can qualitative internet researchers define the boundaries of their projects: A response to Christine Hine. Internet inquiry: Conversations about method, 26-32.


Gregory, D. (1994). Geographical imaginations. Blackwell.


Harvey, D. (1989a). From managerialism to entrepreneurialism: the transformation in urban governance in late capitalism. Geografiska Annaler: Series B, Human Geography, 71(1), 3-17.


Harvey, D. (1989b). The condition of postmodernity (Vol. 14). Oxford: Blackwell.


Jonas, A. E., McCann, E., & Thomas, M. (2015). Urban geography: a critical introduction. John Wiley & Sons.


Leszczynski, A. (2015). Spatial media/tion. Progress in Human Geography, 39(6), 729-751.


Nayak, A., & Jeffrey, A. (2013). Geographical thought: An introduction to ideas in human geography. Routledge.


Putnam, R. D. (2001). Bowling alone: The collapse and revival of American community. Simon and Schuster.


Raban, J. (2017). Soft city. Picador.


Rodgers, S. (2009) Urban geography: urban growth machine. The international encyclopedia of human geography, Oxford: Elsevier (12), 40-45.


Sheppard, E. (2008). A companion to economic geography. John Wiley & Sons.


Zukin, S. (1989). Loft living: culture and capital in urban change. Rutgers University Press.