Date of Graduation

Winter 12-2-2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


International Studies

First Advisor

Stephen Zavestoski


I use the neoliberalization of the water sector in Cape Town, South Africa in order to test my theory of unequal development. I assert that the neoliberal economic practices of water commodification, business-friendly tariff policies, and prepaid management devices keep people along the periphery from accessing water, power, and ideas – thus causing a stratification of time and space compression between the core and the periphery.

By painting a theoretical picture of world cities, I wish to complicate the dominant views of time/space compression and suggest that, much like development and arguably because of it, time and space compression actually becomes a stratified experience in the geographical space of a world city. When a city turns global and attaches into the international space, it detaches from its local context. In the core of the city, made up of its financial district, business sector, and wealthy neighborhoods, time and space are very compressed because they operate closely to the global network of exchange at highs speeds. However, along the periphery of the city populated by mostly working-class or unemployed people, time is actually experienced at a much slower pace than the global network and the peripheral space is kept remote, distant, and detached from the core. This stratification of time and space compression is then used as a further weapon of subjugation against those living along the periphery and intensifies the underdevelopment with which the stratification originated.

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Picture A

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Diagram A

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Diagram B