CHAPTER 16 The job, the factory and the home: how location follows technology

Where we work has always been a key factor in determining where we live. During the earliest days of human existence we followed the herd and the seasons because we hadn’t mastered agriculture. Agricultural societies made possible the growth of towns and cities, and the complex societies we call civilisations. So, too, the factory made possible the modern city of the industrial era. We have up until very recently had to live where we worked. Even when industries became globalised, we still travelled to the locations where we did business. Other than limited forms of communication, there was little choice.

Where we work has always defined where we go and, more importantly, where we live. But what happens when the output of the work, and the person doing it, can be separated and they no longer have to be in the same place? What happens when we don’t have to be near the factors of production in order to organise them? What happens is we see people making personal choices about their preferred place of work and abode. The choice is no longer an economic imperative. It’s no longer a choice designed by the owners of capital because we all own the capital now. It is distributed and accessible to all and that changes the physical landscape. It changes the distribution patterns of people themselves. In this sense, location follows technology. Human locations are a function of technology of the day and technological ...

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