The concept of “non-place” was introduced by French anthropologist Marc Augé in his influential book titled “Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity” published in 1992. Augé argues that in contemporary society, there are certain spaces that lack the characteristics of traditional places and instead can be described as non-places.
According to Augé, non-places are spaces that are devoid of social or historical significance, lacking a sense of identity, and designed for temporary or transitory purposes. These spaces are often standardized, interchangeable, and homogeneous, designed for efficiency and functionality. Examples of non-places include airports, shopping malls, supermarkets, highways, hotel rooms, and train stations. Non-places are characterized by anonymity, transience, and a lack of social interactions. They are spaces where individuals are typically in a state of transit or transition, often engaged in utilitarian activities or waiting. Augé argues that in these spaces, people often experience a sense of detachment, alienation, and disconnection from their surroundings and others.
Augé sees non-places as a product of supermodernity, a term he uses to describe the era of accelerated global mobility, consumption, and communication. He suggests that non-places have emerged as a response to the demands of global capitalism, where efficiency and the flow of goods, services, and information take precedence over local and meaningful interactions. While non-places are often associated with negative aspects such as loneliness and a loss of identity, Augé also acknowledges their functional role in contemporary society. They serve practical purposes, enabling the smooth functioning of transportation, commerce, and communication systems. However, he argues that an overreliance on non-places can lead to a sense of disorientation and a weakening of social bonds.
Augé’s concept of non-places has had a significant impact on various fields, including anthropology, sociology, geography, and cultural studies. It highlights the changing nature of our built environment and the impact of globalization on our experiences of space and place. Non-places provoke questions about the nature of identity, belonging, and social interaction in an increasingly mobile and interconnected world.
Also read; Discuss on the topic Glocalization