Death of distance or tyranny of distance? The internet, deterritorialization, and the anti-globalization movement in Australia
AuthorCAPLING, ANN; Nossal, Kim Richard
Source TitleThe Pacific Review
University of Melbourne Author/sCapling, Ann
AffiliationArts: Education Policy and Management
Document TypeJournal (Paginated)
CitationsCapling, A. & Nossal, K. R. (2001). Death of distance or tyranny of distance? The internet, deterritorialization, and the anti-globalization movement in Australia. The Pacific Review, 14(3), 443-465.
Access StatusOpen Access
This is a post-print of an article whose final and definitive form has been published in the Pacific Review © 2001 Taylor & Francis. The Pacific Review is available online at: http://journalsonline.tandf.co.uk/
Much of the analysis of the anti-globalization movement that has emerged in the last five years has focused on the degree to which the Internet has played a crucial role in contemporary social movements. It is commonly argued that the Internet helps create “virtual communities” that use the medium to exchange information, coordinate activities, and build and extend political support. Much of the commentary on the web as a means of political mobilization for social movements stresses the degree to which the Internet compresses both space and time, accelerating the exchange of information among whomever has access to this technology. Equally important in this view is the deterritorialized nature of on-line protest and the diminution in importance of “place” in current anti-globalization campaigns. Certainly this argument features prominently in analyses of the campaign against the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI) in 1997-98 and the protests against the World Trade Organization (WTO) meetings in Seattle in November and December 1999. Our examination of the antiglobalization movement in Australia however leads us to a different conclusion: that while the Internet does indeed compress time, it compresses space in a different, and indeed quite variable, way. We examine the way in which Australians protested against the MAI and against the WTO meetings in Seattle, and show the differences in the nature of protest in each case. In the MAI case, the protests were well-organized and national in scope, with the Internet playing an important role in organizing the movement. By contrast, in the case of the WTO, the movement was minor and relatively marginal, with the Internet playing little discernible role in galvanizing protest. We conclude that crucial to an understanding of the differences was the considerable difference in the importance of “place” in each case.
Keywordssocial movements; internet; globalization; Australia
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