“Scott Lash and John Urry's book is an ambitious and provocative account of the transformations that are convulsing ‘economies’ and ‘societies’ at the end of the 20th century…. Lash and Urry offer a lucid critique of conceptions of economies and societies as bounded systems and also demonstrate the intricate imbrications of politico-economic and sociocultural processes…. This is a feast of a book: rich in ideas, bursting with theoretical insights and empirical details, and outlining an immensely challenging political intellectual agenda for the end of the century and beyond.” --Contemporary Sociology “This book is a tour de force. The portrait it draws of an increasingly reflexive world of flows is a major contribution to our understanding of society and space.” --Nigel Thrift, University of Bristol “The content of this book is creative, challenging, and provocative. Its scope, and therefore relevance, is broad. Of critical value is the recognition that not all societies are organized according to a neo-liberal model, as well as the centrality given to subjective practices and the value of image in determining identity,m and helping to shape individual life-chances. In addition, the questioning of conventional concepts such as society suggests that the message of the book will be considered seriously. There is successful recourse throughout the text to particular studies or examples that illustrate the arguments. Generally, this a well-written and well-organized book. --Michael Biddulph, Department of Civic Design, Univ. of Liverpool “[This volume] deserves to be widely read, disseminated, and debated.” --Times Higher Education Supplement “This is a book rich in material for reflecting on contemporary life. It deals with changes in the economy, in urban life, and in work and leisure (the impact of global toursim gets particularly good treatment). The differences between industrial societies - the handling of Germany is especially interesting - are sensitively noted, and used to explain important variations in class structure, ethnic and gender relations. There are also some stimulating observations on our new experience of time and space as a result…. Students of society will be quarrying this book for its important insights for many years to come.” --Krishan Kumar in Political Studies “The book is important. It has significant implications for several fields, in particular the analysis of organizations: henceforth, say Lash and Urry, these should be analysed in terms of the flow of various circuits (I would add ‘of power’) through time, space and meaning. However, it is an important publications; there is a great deal here for fertile imaginzation to work through. If I am not very mistaken this text will set some significant agendas.” --Stewart Clegg in Asian Pacific
The aim of this chapter is to outline a framework for the analysis of flows that characterize late twentieth-century societies. These flows consist of capital, labour, commodities, information and images. In the first section we will present an analysis of a dystopic scenario, the dark side of postmodern political economies. Emphasis in this account focusses upon the increasingly rapid circulation of subjects and objects, of multiple space odysseys, and how as a consequence they are emptied of meaning and significance.
The second section of the chapter is devoted to making a set of substantial corrections to this ideal-typical model. It is shown that this flow of subjects and objects is not as free, not as ‘deregulated’, as it might seem. Indeed the flows are ...