Time Diaries

On a weekly basis I will try to map interesting projects, texts, and other initiatives that relate to social studies of time.

Week #6 (Sun 7 March, 2021)

BOOK

Chowdhury T (2021) Time, Temporality and Legal Judgement. London: Routledge. ($$$)

This book challenges the correspondence theory of judicial fact construction – that legal rules resemble and subsume facts ‘out there’ – and instead provides an account of judicial fact construction through legally produced times- or adjudicative temporalities- that structure legal subject and event formation in legal judgement. Drawing on Bergsonian and Gadamerian theories of time, this book details how certain adjudicative temporalities can produce fully willed and autonomous subjects through ‘time framed’ legal events – in effect, the paradigmatic liberal legal subject – or how alternative adjudicative temporalities may structure legal subjects that are situated and constituted by social structures. The consequences of this novel account of legal judgement are fourfold. The first is that judicial fact construction is not exclusively determined by the legal rule (s) but by adjudication’s production of temporalities. The second is that the selection between different adjudicative temporalities is generally indeterminate, though influenced by wider social structures. As will be argued, social structures, framed as a particular type of past produced by certain adjudicative temporalities, may either be incorporated in the rendering of the legal event or elided. The third is that, with the book’s focus on criminal law, different deployments of adjudicative temporalities effect responsibility ascription. Finally, it is argued that the demystification of time as that which structures event and subject formation reveals another way in which to uncover the politics of legal judgement and the potential for its transformative potential, through either its inclusion or its elision of social structures in adjudication’s determination of facts. This book will be of interest to students and scholars in the field of legal judgement, legal theory and jurisprudence.

SHOLARLY ARTICLES

Richter F and Ibáñez A (2021) Time is Body: Multimodal Evidence of Crosstalk between Interoception and Time Estimation. Biological Psychology 159 (Feb 2021), article no. 108017 ($$$)

Theoretical approaches propose a blending between interoception and time estimation. Interoception might constitute a neurophysiological mechanism for encoding duration. However, no study has assessed the convergence between interoception and time estimation using behavioral, neurophysiological, and functional anatomy signatures. We examined the multimodal convergence between interoception and time estimation using a two-fold approach. In study 1, we developed a dual design combining interoception (measuring heartbeat detection – HBD, and heartbeat evoked potential – HEP) with a time estimation paradigm (TEP, estimation of duration of a 120 s interval). In study 2, we performed a conjoint metanalysis (Multi-level Kernel Density Analysis, MKDA) of neuroimaging, including reports of interoception and time estimation. Both studies provide convergent evidence of time estimation’s significant involvement in behavioral, electrophysiological (enhanced HEP), and neuroimaging (overlapping cluster in the right insula and operculum) signatures of interoception. Convergent results from both studies offer direct support for a shared mechanism of interoception and time estimation.

Ramakrishnan K, O’Reilly K and Budds J (2020) The Temporal Fragility of Infrastructure: Theorizing Decay, Maintenance, and Repair. Environment and Planning E: Nature and Space first published 29 Dec 2020. (open access)

Recent studies have reconceptualized infrastructure as comprising both material and social processes, thus offering insights into lived experiences, governance, and socio-spatial reordering. More specific attention to infrastructure’s temporality has challenged its supposed inertia and inevitable completeness, leading to an engagement with questions of the dynamics of infrastructure over different phases of its lifespan, and their generative effects. In this paper, we advance these debates through a focus on the processes of decay, maintenance, and repair that characterize such phases of infrastructural life, by exploring how specific infrastructures are materially shaped by, and shape, social, political, and socio-ecological arrangements. Our intervention has two related aims: first, to conceptualize decay, maintenance, and repair as both temporal phases of infrastructure’s dynamic materiality and its specific affective conditions; second, to trace how these phases of infrastructural life rework embodied labor, differentiated citizenship, and socio-ecological relations. We argue that attention to infrastructure’s “temporal fragility” elucidates the articulation between everyday capacities and desires to labor, the creation of and demands made by political constituents, and the uneven distribution of opportunities and resources.

Folkers A (2021) Fossil Modernity: The Materiality of Acceleration, Slow Violence, and Ecological Futures. Time & Society first published 19 Feb 2021. (open access)

This article seeks to materialize social theories of modern temporalities. It proposes a tempo-material analysis of carbon resources like coal, oil, and gas to illuminate how fossil materialities both underpin and undermine modern temporalities and introduce the notion of fossil modernity to evoke an understanding of the modern composed of multiple conflicting modes of material temporality. Fossil resources (fossil fuels and petrochemical substances) drive the pace and progressive perspective of modernity. The residuals of these resources (CO2, plastic waste, and petrochemical toxins) confront societies with long-lasting ecological damage. Fossil fuels helped to produce the expectation of growth and endless possibility. Fossil residuals create a horizon of ecological liabilities in which past options have become future obligations. This renders the pretences of “modernization” understood as a process of constant renewal and innovation problematic. The article argues that modern societies cannot simply overcome their material–temporal predicaments through “decarbonization” because even after a shift to solar power, organic agriculture, and sustainable plastics, the fossil past will continue to influence, inform, and incite social operations. The article thus shows how different responses to the problems of fossil modernity need to go back to and emerge from the material residues of the past: this goes for bio-capitalist projects seeking to “recycle” the entropic temporality of fossil residuals as well as for environmental justice movements that decipher these residuals as indexes of social asymmetries and call for socio-ecological “redistribution.”

Kaun A and Stiernstedt F (2020) Doing Time, the Smart Way? Temporalities of the Smart Prison. New Media & Society 22(9): 1580-1599. (open access)

The article engages with the notion of the smart prison to develop an understanding of emerging temporalities of digital technologies. The prison context serves here as a magnifying glass that makes certain contradictions and paradoxes of the digital imperative visible. Starting with a brief discussion of smart technology discourses, the article explores the temporalities of real-timeness, prediction and pre-emption that are entangled with digital technologies. Analysing the Spartan RFID tracking tool, the use of algorithms in prison administration and a mobile phone application used in Swedish probation, the article identifies a desynchronization between the temporalities of the incarcerated individuals’ lived experience and the (imagined) temporalities of the smart prison. The findings point to developments that are relevant for the smart, digital society beyond the prison walls.

PROJECTS

The Long Time Tools – Tools to Cultivate Long-Termism in Institutions. http://www.thelongtimeproject.org

This is a guide created by policymakers, for policymakers to enable us to integrate long-termism into our work. It contains a series of different tools for you to test out at work. We invite you to try using some of these tools over the next few months. These tools are a practical way to start getting more long-term. The Covid-19 crisis is a stark reminder that we need to think about both the immediate future and the long-term future. From pandemics, to climate change, to biodiversity loss, to the societal implications of AI; we face a growing number of crises that have the potential to both endure for a long time and have long-term implications for our collective future. To neglect these existential risks, will be to fail both present and future generations. Philosopher Toby Ord writes that, “protection from existential risk is an intergenerational global public good.”

The AHS Women and Horology Project. http://www.ahsoc.org

This project started in 2017 when watchmaker Geoff Allnutt came across a watch engraved with a woman’s name on the barrel bridge of the movement. Although recent research has suggested that many of the names on watches like these are in fact the first owners of the watch, this is not always the case. Some women’s names are backed by supporting evidence to be the maker, or at least the retailer, as with their male counterparts. Geoff commissioned Su Fullwood, a freelance collections adviser, to use secondary sources to put together a list showing how widespread it was that women were associated with horology. This initial list used such publications as Brian Loomes, Watchmakers and Clockmakers of the World and local lists of clock and watchmakers, as well as more specialist books such as Philip Priestley, Watch Case Makers of England and Allen White, The Chain Makers. The list included all references found to women who were associated with horology in some way, such as women who ran retail businesses, practicing watch and clockmakers, dial painters, case makers and tool makers. Most of these women, however, were those who worked in small businesses taking over the work after their husbands died, or who were working in watch and clock factories. The original aim was only to collate names in secondary sources.  However, due to the number of women and the range of individual circumstances discovered, it became clear that women practising a horological craft or business during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries was not as rare as previously thought and certainly more diverse and complicated. As in every other period, these businesspeople, craftspeople and entrepreneurs are largely hidden in history, with little written about them. Certainly, in the generalised historical books on horology, women rarely get more than a mention, despite their clear presence in the original documents. Owing to the richness of these initial findings, the project was extended to a search of primary sources, including census returns, newspaper articles, wills, existing objects and photographs, in both private and public collections. This was done with the aim to gather as much information as possible about women and horology in a useable, accessible form so that we can further our knowledge of an area that has so far not been extensively investigated. By bringing all of the information together in one place, the resource can be used to find out more about the involvement of women in horological businesses and making, from the seventeenth through to the twentieth century.

Week #5 (Sun 21 February, 2021)

BOOKS

Vostal F (ed) (2021) Inquiring Into Academic Timescapes. Bingley: Emerald Publishing. ($$$)

Proliferating literature claims that academia is in a critical condition, generating armies of anxious, neurotic and time-hungry individuals which are governed by the speed imperatives integral to a modernist and capitalist rationality. This book puts the temporal ordering of academic life under the microscope, and showcases the means of yielding a better understanding of how time and temporality act both as instruments of power and vulnerability within the academic space. This book brings together more than three dozen scholars who collectively craft a much-needed nuanced sociologically-driven perspective of temporalities in academia. Delving into contemporary processes which are quintessentially temporal in their character, such as the increasing precariousness of jobs among junior scholars, the prevalence of grant funding, the role of evaluation systems, and the political economy of higher education, the authors offer a forensic analysis of the complex nature of academic temporalities as experienced, understood, controlled, managed and contested in various academic and research contexts.

SCHOLARLY ARTICLES

Benda L (2021) Inevitability, Contingency, and the Epistemic Significance of Time. Time & Society 30(1):30-54. ($$$)

A considerable attention has been given recently to the analysis of the temporal dimension(s) of science and the impact of the changes therein on scientific work. One of the questions that has emerged from the rapidly growing discussion is whether and (if so) how these changes affect not only the general structural aspects of scientific practice but also the very content of scientific knowledge. In this study, I critically examine these epistemological considerations in the available body of work on scientific temporality and argue that while there has been significant progress in our understanding of the manifold temporal layers of scientific practice, the analysis of their epistemic impact has remained rather limited in certain aspects. In particular, whereas the recent studies of academic time successfully overcome the binary perspective of “fast versus slow” academia, their considerations of the epistemic role of scientific temporality in particular seem nevertheless still couched in similarly binary terms. Against this background, the study explores—in a deliberately speculative fashion—how the available investigations into the temporal structure of science can be progressively utilized and further developed so as to enable an even more complex, nonbinary understanding of the manifold ways in which scientific practice is affected by its temporal conditions. Drawing on the contingentism/inevitabilism debate in the contemporary philosophy of science, as well as on Andrew Pickering’s “mangle” theory of practice, I develop a tentative argument that the temporal structure of scientific work should be perceived as affecting not merely the speed of scientific development—whether negatively or positively—but more importantly also its direction.

Tipples J, Lupton M, George D (2021) The Effects of Time Pressure on Temporal Overestimation Due to Threat. Timing & Time Perception DOI: https://doi.org/10.1163/22134468-bja10027. ($$$)

How does emotion change the way we perceive time? Studies have shown that we overestimate the duration of faces that express anger of fear–an effect that has been explained as due the speeding of a pacemaker that resides within an internal clock. Here, we test the idea that attending longer to facial threat leads to an overestimation of time. Seventy participants (16 male) estimated the duration of angry, fearful and neutral expressions under conditions designed to either reduce attention to time (by emphasising speedy responses) or lengthen attention to time (by emphasising accuracy). Results were modelled using Bayesian Multilevel Logistic Regression. The results replicate previous findings: speed emphasis reduced temporal sensitivity and led to both a higher overall proportion of long responses and faster reaction times. Facial threat attenuated the drop in temporal sensitivity due to speed instructions supporting the idea that people prolong attention to threat (even when they are not directly instructed to do so). We relate the findings to research into attention bias to threat and more broadly to models of perceptual decision making.

Hughes SM (2021) “Wait for a Permanent Contract”: The Temporal Politics of (In)fertility as an Early Career Researcher. Environment and Planning C: Politics and space DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F2399654421994852. (open access)

The impetus for this intervention comes from my own experiences of advice to ‘wait for a permanent contract’ before trying to conceive a child. I contend that this considerate guidance, frequently given to Early Career Researchers, nonetheless re-inscribes a linear capitalist temporality, and that there is a need to resist this binding of the temporalities of (in)fertility to the metrics of the neoliberal academy. I suggest that to promote ‘waiting’ negates the nonlinear, everyday and intimate politics of our varied, embodied experiences of (in)fertility. It is also grounded within problematic assumptions: first, that waiting is linear; that we will arrive at a permanent job in the future, if we persist with the present; and second, that our (in)fertility is known to us, that we are able to, and will, make a rational decision to conceive a child. These are pervasive assumptions with deeply personal implications. Moreover, they are compounded by the short-term contracts, and expectations of institutional mobility that characterise many experiences of UK academia. My hope for this piece is that it invites geographers to further explore embodied politics of (in)fertility.

Koronowski KB and Sassone-Corsi (2021) Communicating Clocks Shape Circadian Homeostasis. Science 317(6530) DOI: 10.1126/science.abd0951. ($$$)

Circadian clocks temporally coordinate physiology and align it with geophysical time, which enables diverse life-forms to anticipate daily environmental cycles. In complex organisms, clock function originates from the molecular oscillator within each cell and builds upward anatomically into an organism-wide system. Recent advances have transformed our understanding of how clocks are connected to achieve coherence across tissues. Circadian misalignment, often imposed in modern society, disrupts coordination among clocks and has been linked to diseases ranging from metabolic syndrome to cancer. Thus, uncovering the physiological circuits whereby biological clocks achieve coherence will inform on both challenges and opportunities in human health.

Haspel J, Kim M, Zee P, Schwarzmeier T, Montagese S, Panda S, Albani A and Merrow M (2021) A Timely Call to Arms: COVID-19, the Circadian Clock, and Critical Care. Journal Of Biological Rhythms DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F0748730421992587. (open access)

We currently find ourselves in the midst of a global coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by the highly infectious novel coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Here, we discuss aspects of SARS-CoV-2 biology and pathology and how these might interact with the circadian clock of the host. We further focus on the severe manifestation of the illness, leading to hospitalization in an intensive care unit. The most common severe complications of COVID-19 relate to clock-regulated human physiology. We speculate on how the pandemic might be used to gain insights on the circadian clock but, more importantly, on how knowledge of the circadian clock might be used to mitigate the disease expression and the clinical course of COVID-19.

CONFERENCE

2021 IATUR Conference – Barcelona Time Use.

The 2021 IATUR conference will invite abstracts for papers that deal with any aspect of time-use research, including but not limited to:

COVID-19 impact on time use.

Relationship between time use policies and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda. Special emphasis will be put on how they can impact/support the energy transition.

Time use policies at local level (as an example, chrono-urbanism, evaluation of local time use policies, etc.).

Gender and intersectional inequalities on time use.

Working time use, including labour organisation, labour relations policies, health, and work safety impacts, telework, productivity impacts or how to approach changes brought by the 4.0. Industry and digitisation, among others.

Time use on the education field. The perception of time by children, teachers, and families.

Time use on public services, both internally and towards the citizens.

Time use surveys design and implementation.

Time use research methodology for designing and/or evaluating public policies.

Time use research methodologies.

Others (If your abstract does not fit under any of these topics, please submit it under “Others” category).

Week #4 (Fri 12 February, 2021)

SCHOLARLY ARTICLES

Kalman YM, Ballard DI, Aguilar AM (2021) Chronemic Urgency in Everyday Digital Communication. Time & Society. DOI:10.1177/0961463X20987721. (open access)

The experience of a lack of time due to an increasing burden of urgent tasks is one of the more common challenges created by digital communication media in the network society. This study develops the concept of chronemic urgency to explore urgent messaging using digital media. Chronemic urgency is the urgency users assign to messages received via a specific communication medium. Consistent with a communication perspective, the urgency is a function of both the relationship and the media. This study uses social entrainment theory and expectancy violations theory to conceptualize the chronemic urgency construct. This construct is then examined in a pilot study of the chronemic urgency 773 US-based participants assign to the communication media they use at least on a weekly basis. High chronemic urgency is assigned to messages received through media that (1) are used for urgent communication, (2) are checked more often, (3) are likely to be used by others who wish to contact the user urgently, and (4) are likely to lead to a quicker response. Despite the increasing centrality of urgency in everyday communication in the digital age, researchers and practitioners lack reliable methods to measure chronemic urgency in populations. The findings provide initial indications of levels of chronemic urgency in the US population’s everyday digital communication and create a foundation to better understand contemporary temporal phenomena.

Blue S, Shove E, Forman P (2020) Conceptualising Flexibility: Challenging Representations of Time and Society in the Energy Sector. Time & Society 29(4):923-944. (open access)

There is broad agreement that the need to decarbonise and make better use of renewable and more intermittent sources of power will require increased flexibility in energy systems. However, organisations involved in the energy sector work with very different interpretations of what this might involve. In describing how the notion of flexibility is reified, commodified, and operationalised in sometimes disparate and sometimes connected ways, we show that matters of time and timing are routinely abstracted from the social practices and forms of provision on which the rhythms of supply and demand depend. We argue that these forms of abstraction have the ironic effect of stabilising interpretations of need and demand, and of limiting rather than enabling the emergence of new practices and patterns of demand alongside, and as part of, a radically decarbonised energy system. One way out of this impasse is to conceptualise flexibility as an emergent outcome of the sequencing and synchronisation of social practices. To do so requires a more integrated and historical account of how supply and demand constitute each other and how both are implicated in the temporal organisation of everyday life. It follows that efforts to promote flexibility in the energy sector need to look beyond systems of provision, price, technology, and demand-side management narrowly defined, and instead focus on the social rhythms and the timing of what people do.

BOOKS

Clift BC, Gore J, Gustafsson S, Bekker S, Batlle IC, Hatchard J (eds) (2021) Temporality in Qualitative Inquiry: Theories, Methods and Practices. London: Routledge. ($$$ except chapter 2)

Temporality in Qualitative Inquiry explores the relationship between time and qualitative research and unpacks some of the conceptual, methodological, practical, and pragmatic areas of qualitative inquiry related to time and temporality. This book advances the understanding and re-evaluation of research practice by examining the passage of time, temporal feeling, and conceptualising of time/temporality in research practice with participants. It provides theoretical and practical insights into how to navigate the concepts of time and temporality in qualitative inquiry. With authors from across the globe and from an array of social sciences including cultural studies, education, health, management and business, psychology, sociology, and sport and exercise, the book explores theoretical, methodological, and practical discussions of time and temporality in order to unpack and elicit meaning and understanding.The editors champion the call for the existence of slow and quick qualitative methodologies and methods. As such, this book is suitable for graduate students and researchers interested in qualitative inquiry, and in disciplines such as education, health research, management, psychology, sociology, and communication studies.

(Chapter 2 of this book is freely available as a downloadable Open Access PDF under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 4.0 license at https://tandfbis.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/rt-files/docs/Open+Access+Chapters/ISBN_oachapter2.pdf5)

Flaherty MG, Meinert L, Dalsgård AL (2020) Time Work: Studies of Temporal Agency. Oxford: Berghahn Books.

Examining how people alter or customize various dimensions of their temporal experience, this volume discovers how we resist external sources of temporal constraint or structure. These ethnographic studies are international in scope and look at many different countries and continents. They come to the overall conclusion that people construct their own circumstances with the intention to modify their experience of time.

I reviewed the book for Symbolic Interaction. ($$$)

ESSAYS

Hussey K (2021) Speed of Science: Slowing Down and Speeding up Scientific Research in the Age of COVID-19. Times of Covid-19 Blog, Feb 2.

‘Speed of Science’. The exhibit is sponsored (unsurprisingly) by the pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, who in November 2020 announced a successful Stage 3 trial of its coronavirus vaccine, making it the fastest vaccine ever developed. Science Gallery’s display explores the body’s immune system and how mRNA vaccines work – timed to launch almost simultaneously with the distribution of the company’s product in the neighboring United Kingdom, after a lightning fast development and approvals process. That science moves quickly is not something new to the year 2020 – with competition within the scientific sector to publish new findings or patent new technologies creating a culture of (calculated) rapidity. Indeed, the practice of science has been underlined by the need for speed since at least the nineteenth century. As Isabelle Stengers has argued, the experimental sciences are the birthplace of the ‘fast science model’ – in which facts are verified by competent observers leading up to the all-important publication in a high impact scientific journal. However, the compression of the vaccine development period from years to a matter of months is perhaps one of the most dramatic examples of the speed of science yet.

CONFERENCE

The Material Life of Time. March 15-17, 2021, online via QiQo Chat.

Much of the time of our lives is given to us by the relationships, properties and movements of worldly materialities. Atmospheric carbon has irrevocably transformed agricultural time (Kassam et al 2018), microplastics are queering reproductive time (Davis 2015), dissolvable sutures have remade the time of health, while rare earth minerals make possible the mobile phones at the heart of debates around acceleration and time squeeze (Wajcman 2008). In all of these ways and more, we see material objects — their uses, cost, manufacture, changing composition and characteristics — at the heart of modern debates about how time should be used, lived and valued.

A deeper recognition of the material lives of time thus attunes us to questions of how times are being made, where its materials are coming from, who or what is being displaced in the process, and what kinds of material practices are being called forth. How does the global race for resources in a time of climate breakdown, including for oil, gas, arable land and fresh water, make new times of migration, colonialism and dispossession? How are new bio- and medical technologies affecting embodied temporalities? How are particular generational, political or bureaucratic times out-of-synch (or not) with geological times, biological times or ecological times, and what are the consequences? What kind of resonance do concepts such as ‘modernity’, ‘post-modernity’, ‘growth’, ‘recession’, ‘crisis’ and ‘acceleration’ take on from this perspective? What kinds of speculative futures are being produced and for whom (Keeling 2019)?

‘Materialising’ time also works back on concepts, approaches and methods for studying time by calling into question the dualistic treatment of ‘social time’ and ‘natural time’ which has structured a significant proportion of work on time (Adam 1994). We are asked to  rethink key temporal concepts by attending more closely to their material basis and the ways these materials remain, morph, wear away and disappear with changing environments and socialities, “not in a relation of linear unfolding, but threaded through one another in a nonlinear enfolding of spacetimemattering” (Barad 2010). Another set of questions thus revolves around how to study time in its complexity, the difficulties that disciplinarity presents, and what to make of the continual rediscovery that time is not unitary and objective, but multiple and situated.

Working in collaboration with the Lifetimes and the Waiting Times projects and the Sydney Environment Institute, this Temporal Belongings conference will bring together scholars, researchers and practitioners interested in the socialities and materialities of time in order to explore how each is shaped by the other. Our network continues its interest in playing with the traditional time of academic collaboration and so we will include a mixture of presentation styles, and plenty of time for discussion. Collaborative, participant driven sessions will allow themes emerging from the presentations to be synthesised and explored in greater depth. Our conference will take place online via the QiQoChat platform. Using Zoom as its video meeting provider, QiQo enables attendees to move between a number of online meetings easily and to set up their own discussions or meetings as needed. We will be facilitating live synchronous sessions and opportunities for planned and spontaneous interaction with other attendees. You can click through the links above to find out more about how the conference will be organised and the platform. 

This event is open to anyone with an interst in the topic. Registration is required, with fees starting from £10 for the full event. 

Week #3

SCHOLARLY ARTICLES

Murthy D, O’Brien JD, Gross A and Meyers N (2021) Variations in the Temporal Structure of Sociability across American CitiesSociology 55(1): 30-55. ($$$)

Though sociologists have been interested in how temporal patterns of sociability vary in urban contexts, the study of city-level dynamics at short timescales has been challenging historically. Social media and new computational methods provide a solution. Our study clusters cities using sociality as a metric. We collected three months of social media data to investigate variation in the temporal structure of sociability across American cities. We find that cities cluster into three distinct types (‘Coastal’, ‘Transitional’ and ‘Heartland’) and that geographic proximity together with race, education and language associate with this clustering. Specifically, we found that clusters of Blacker cities tend to tweet more per capita, but also that more highly educated cities tend to tweet less per capita. These findings provide evidence that social media may be facilitating new opportunities to empower traditionally marginalized urban groups, a conclusion relevant to #BlackLivesMatter, the George Floyd protests and other social movements.

Nairn K, Kidman J, Matthews KR, Showden CR and Parker A (2021) Living in and out of time: Youth-led activism in Aotearoa New Zealand. Time & Society. ($$$)

Addressing past and present injustices in order to create more just futures is the central premise of most social movements. How activists conceptualise and relate to time affects1how they articulate their vision, the actions they take and how they imagine intergenerational justice. Two social movements for change are emblematic of different relationships with time: the struggle to resolve and repair past injustices against Indigenous peoples and the struggle to avert environmental disaster, which haunt the future of the planet. We report ethnographic research (interviews and participant observation) with young activists in these two social movements in New Zealand: Protect Ihumātao seeks to protect Indigenous land from a housing development, and Generation Zero is lobbying for a zero-carbon future. We argue that analysing activists’ articulations and sensations of time is fundamental to understanding the ways they see themselves in relation to other generations, their ethical imperatives for action and beliefs about how best to achieve social change. Protect Ihumātao participants spoke of time as though past, present and future were intertwined and attributed their responsibility to protect the land to past and future generations. Generation Zero participants spoke of time as a linear trajectory to a climate-altered future, often laying blame for the current crises on previous generations and attributing the responsibility for averting the crisis to younger generations. How activists conceptualise time and generational relations therefore has consequences for the attribution of responsibility for creating social change. Understanding and learning about temporal diversity across social movements is instructive for expanding our thinking about intergenerational responsibility which might inform ways of living more respectfully with the planet.

Beck J and Dorrian M (2020) The Time Capsule and the Cut-Up: Negotiating Temporality, Anticipating CatastropheTheory, Culture & Society 37(7-8): 95-114. (open access)

The first feature film made about the design and deployment of the atomic bomb, The Beginning or the End (1947), begins with fake newsreel footage depicting the burial in a time capsule of a copy of the film and a projector to show it on. The scene, with its funereal overtones yet grim optimism that, even in the face of catastrophic destruction, the germ of civilization will endure, recalls the ceremonies surrounding the interment of the Westinghouse time capsule at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. Time capsules, this article argues, stand in a complex relation to war and temporality, seeking to at once anticipate and work through the challenge posed to futurity by the threat of global conflict. As a container, the capsule attempts to deliver and control the reception of a legible inventory of the present, yet the principle of selection and the impossibility of predicting how information might be received in the deep future – if it is received at all – threatens this aim. The dilemma faced by time capsule curators is, we argue with reference to William Burroughs’ and Brion Gysin’s so-called cut-up method of writing, one of control. By reading the time capsule through the cut-up, anticipated catastrophe can be seen to be functioning proleptically in the present and already active as a challenge to the capsule as proof against disaster.

BOOK

Glezos S (2021) Speed and Micropolitics: Bodies, Minds, and Perception in an Accelerating World. London: Routledge. ($$$)

This book provides a theoretical framework for understanding the micropolitics of speed; a rich, nuanced, and embodied account of life in an accelerating world. What does it feel like to live in an era of profound social acceleration? What kinds of affects, perceptions, and identities does an accelerating world produce? The answers to these questions mean more than simply understanding the psychology of speed; they also mean understanding issues in contemporary politics as diverse as xenophobia and anti-immigration policies, patterns of transnational identification and solidarity, social isolation and alienation, and the ability of new media to coordinate social movements. While drawing extensively on the work of contemporary theorists, Simon Glezos recognizes that social acceleration is not a purely recent phenomenon. He therefore turns to thinkers such as Nietzsche, Spinoza, Bergson, and Merleau-Ponty, to ask how they sought to understand, and respond to, the rapid changes and unsettling temporalities of their eras, and how their insights can be applied to our own. Advancing theoretical understanding and offering a useful way to analytically conceptualize the nature of time, Speed and Micropolitics will be of interest to students and scholars studying affect theory, theories of the body, new materialism, phenomenology, as well as the history of political thought.

ESSAYS AND OTHER TEXTS

Borfitz D (2021) Deep Longevity Building An Arsenal of Aging Clocks. BioITWorld January 21. (open access)

In the not-too-distant future, people could be paying a monthly fee to access a long list of “aging clocks” serving as bellwethers of their health and efforts to improve their physical condition. Physicians might also be procuring medical-grade reports on the aging process of their patients. It is a business model Hong Kong startup Deep Longevity is banking on. 

Carter J (2021) Do We Need A ‘Drop Second?’ The Worrying Reason Why Earth May Be Speeding Up After Decades Of Slowing Down. Forbes January 15. (open access)

Have you got a second? Thought to be gradually slowing down, our planet is suddenly spinning faster than it has for 50 years—and you need to know why. Having gotten used to adding a “leap second” every now and then to keep their atomic clocks accurate, international timekeepers are now mulling over whether to add the first-ever “negative leap second” or “drop second.”  That’s because last year saw the shortest day—so the fastest rotation—since people started counting. In fact, 2020 included the 28 shortest days since 1960. So what’s going on? Why is Earth rotating faster? And does it matter? The answer, as you might have guessed, could be sinister—the melting of the glaciers may be making Earth spin faster in space. 

PROJECT

Virtual Times

Sense of time is a shared human experience which includes the dimensions of passage of time (feeling of time passing by) and structure of time (of serial order of events). Both the sense of passage and structure of time can be disturbed and changed for people living with psychopathological conditions. For example, disturbances of time are reported by patients with depressive disorders, schizophrenia and Autism Spectrum Disorder. This gives rise to a broad range of psychopathological symptoms, such as the feeling of being “stuck in time”, or that time “stands still”, asynchronies in temporal order and feelings of emptiness and disembodiment. Virtual Reality can be used to modify time experience if natural events speed up or slow down. For example, it has been shown that the velocity of the movement of a virtual sun had an influence on time judgement. On this basis, we propose the hypotheses that the modification by means of an “intelligent”, game-based Virtual Reality Technology, called MetaChron, will ameliorate distortions of the sense fo time and core symptoms of psychopathological conditions. We assume that the experience of an accelerated passage of time while playing the VR game can in itself already improve the mood of the users leading to a “flow” state and the experience of losing track of time. Together, our consortium with expertise in psychology, psychopathology, cognitive neuroscience, engineering, computer science and philosophy will develop and provide MetaChron, a time-sensitive and “intelligent” Virtual Reality platform, to study, manipulate and treat distortions in sense of time.

Week #2

BOOKS

Bernasconi B and Thürigen S (eds) (2020) Material Histories of Time: Objects and Practices, 14th-19th Centuries. Berlin:De Gruyter. ($$$)

The historiography of timekeeping is traditionally characterized by a dichotomy between research that investigates the evolution of technical devices on the one hand, and research that is concerned with the examination of the cultures and uses of time on the other hand.  Material Histories of Time opens a dialogue between these two approaches by taking monumental clocks, table clocks, portable watches, carriage clocks, and other forms of timekeeping as the starting point of a joint reflection of specialists of the history of horology together with scholars studying the social and cultural history of time. The contributions range from the apparition of the first timekeeping mechanical systems in the Middle Ages to the first evidence of industrialization in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Kirtsouglou E and Simpson B (eds.) (2021) The Time of Anthropology: Studies of Contemporary Chronopolitics. London: Routledge. ($$$)

The Time of Anthropology provides a series of compelling anthropological case studies that explore the different temporalities at play in the scientific discourses, governmental techniques and policy practices through which modern life is shaped. Together they constitute a novel analysis of contemporary chronopolitics. The contributions focus on state power, citizenship, and ecologies of time to reveal the scalar properties of chronopolitics as it shifts between everyday lived realities and the macro-institutional work of nation states. The collection charts important new directions for chronopolitical thinking in the future of anthropological research.

SCHOLARLY ARTICLES

Schmittberger BL and Scherer DR (2020). A Review of Contemporary Atomic Frequency Standards. arXiv.org, APRIL 21

Atomic frequency standards are used to generate accurate and precise time and frequency, enabling many communications, synchronization, and navigation systems in modern life. GPS and other satellite navigation systems, voice and data telecommunications, and timestamping of financial transactions all rely on precise time and frequency enabled by atomic frequency standards.  This review provides a snapshot and outlook of contemporary atomic frequency standards and the applications they enable. We provide a concise summary of the performance and physics of operation of current and future atomic frequency standards. Additionally, examples of emerging frequency standard technologies and prototype demonstrations are presented, with a focus on technologies expected to provide commercial or military utility within the next decade.  We include a comparison of performance vs. size and power for current atomic frequency standards, and we compare early prototypes of next-generation frequency standards to current product trends. An empirical relationship between frequency standard performance and product size is developed and discussed. Finally, we provide a mapping between applications and frequency standard technologies.

BLOG POSTS, INTERVIEWS

Poon J (2021) Both Sides Now: London’s Contradictory Modalities of Slow and Fast. Times of Covid-19 Blog, Jan 5.

Much has been said about how the pandemic has not merely disrupted our ways of being, but accelerated geopolitical tensions at the level of the nation state and our patterns of consumption on an individual level. One of the reactions that has resulted from the pandemic’s illumination of previously intangible structures has been a conscious, reflective attempt to slow down.

Kemmer L, Kühn A, Weber V (2021) Pandemic Times. A Conversation with Lisa Barister about the Temporal Politics of COVID-19. ephemera: theory & politics in organization, forthcoming.

Lisa Baraitser is Professor of Psychosocial Theory at Birkbeck, University of London. In her research, she combines psychoanalytic and social theories to address the temporal, ethical and affective dimensions of care. In this interview, Prof. Baraitser helps us think through the temporal politics of COVID-19 and the ways in which pandemic conditions transform the affective dimensions of care work in Europe and US-America.

CALL FOR PAPERS

The Politics of Time: From Control to Self-control in a Digital World. 11th Organizations, Artifacts and Practices (OAP) Workshop, June 17-18, 2021, online and/or Barcelona. 

Week #1

Scholarly Articles

Paris B (2021). Time constructs: Design ideology and a future internet. Time & Society. (open access)

This article engages the politics of technology as it examines how a discourse of time is framed by engineers and project principals in the course of the development of three future internet architecture projects: named data networking, eXpressive Internet Architecture, and Mobility First. This framing reveals categories of a discourse of time that include articulations of efficiency, speed, time as a technical resource, and notions of the future manifest in each project. The discursive categories fit into a time constructs model that exposes how these projects were built with regard to concepts of speed and how different notions of time are expressed as a design ideology intertwined with other ideologies. This time constructs framework represents a tool that can be used to expose the social and political values of technological development that are often hidden or are difficult to communicate in cross-disciplinary contexts.

Gagnon-Harvey AA, McArtur J, Tétreault É, Fortin-Guichard D, Grodin S (2021). Age, Personal Characteristics, and the Speed of Psychological Time. Timing & Time Perception. ($$$)

Adults often report the impression that time seems to pass more and more quickly as they get older. The purpose of this study is to identify how individual characteristics relate to this impression of acceleration. To do so, 894 participants aged 15 to 97 completed a questionnaire that surveyed sociodemographic characteristics, impulsivity, anxiety, personality, and relation to time. They also indicated how fast different lapses of time seemed to have passed: yesterday, the past week, the past month, the past year, the past three years, the past five years, and the past 10 years. For each period, except for one year, adolescents found that time passes more slowly than participants from older groups (18–29 years, 30–59 years, and 60 years and over). A composite score for all these periods also indicates that female participants found that time passes more rapidly than males. However, a multiple linear regression analysis reveals that the variables that best predict the impression that time passes faster as we get older are high anxiety, the belief in the phenomenon of temporal compression, as well as conscientiousness and agreeableness personality traits, with other factors explaining little variance. These results add further weight to the impression that time seems to pass more quickly as we age, but also indicate that other variables than age play a critical role in explaining this impression.

Singhal I (2021). No Sense in Saying ‘There is No Sense Organ for Time’. Timing & Time Perception. ($$$)

This paper explores the use of perhaps the most ubiquitous phrase in time perception literature, i.e., ‘there is no sense organ for time’. I argue here that its usage often highlights several misguided notions about how we perceive time and thus creates a problem in studying it. In this commentary three such underlying notions are discussed which are often drawn as conclusions from the lack of a sensory system to perceive time. These are that time is generated or created separately by the brain, that time perception is different from other kinds of perception and that the study of time is hampered by the lack of a dedicated sense organ. These notions are discussed and argued against. It is claimed that a sense organ for time is not possible, nor does this exclude time from our percepts in general. Moreover, rather than creating a problem, a lack of a sense organ for time offers an opportunity to theorize about our experiences across perceptual modalities and cognitive mechanisms. I conclude by suggesting an end to using this phrase and instead seeing mental time as existing across our experiences.

Wittmann W and Mella N (2021). Having Children Speeds up the Subjective Passage of Lifetime in Parents. Timing & Time Perception. ($$$)

A widely reproduced finding across numerous studies of different cultures is that adults perceive the most recent 10 years of their lives to have passed particularly fast, and that this perceived speed increases as they grow older. Potential explanatory factors for this effect are believed to be more routines in life as we age as well as an increase in time pressure during middle adult age, both factors that would lead to a reduced autobiographical memory load. Fewer contextual changes in life are known to cause the passage of time to be perceived as faster. Taking advantage of the database created for the study that first captured this age effect on subjective time (), we investigated the role that having children plays in the subjective speeding of time. Adults aged between 20 and 59 who had children reported that time over the last 10 years passed subjectively more quickly than adults of the same age group without children. Factors such as education or gender did not influence subjective time. A small correlation effect could be seen in the fact that parents with more children reported that time passed more quickly. Experienced time pressure was not a differentiating factor between the two groups, as time pressure was associated with a faster passage of time in all adults. Future systematic studies will have to reveal what factors on autobiographical memory and time might be accountable for this clear effect that raising children has on perceived time.

Ialenti V (2021). Drum breach: Operational temporalities, error politics and WIPP’s kitty litter nuclear waste accident. Social Studies of Science. ($$$)

In February 2014 at the WIPP transuranic waste repository in New Mexico, a drum erupted in fire. It exposed 22 people to radiation, shut down the underground facility for 35 months and cost the United States over a billion dollars. Heat and pressure had built up in the drum due to chemical reactions with an organic kitty litter, Swheat Scoop, which had been mistakenly added to it at Los Alamos National Laboratory, the birthplace of the atomic bomb. This article disrupts two prominent narratives: (a) that the accident was induced by a typographical error made after a waste packaging operations supervisor misheard ‘inorganic kitty litter’ as ‘an organic kitty litter’ during a meeting, and (b) that it was induced primarily by ‘mismanagement’ at WIPP, Los Alamos and the DOE’s New Mexico field offices. It does so by exploring how a series of overambitious political initiatives, fraught labor relationships, financialized subcontracting arrangements and US Department of Energy (DOE) performance incentives set the stage for Los Alamos’s notorious error by accelerating US waste packaging, shipping and repository emplacement rates beyond systemic capacity. Attention to operational temporalities shows how an often-overlooked nexus of schedule pressures, political-economic imperatives and regulatory breakdowns converged to modulate nuclear waste management workflows and, ultimately, trigger a radiological accident.

Other texts and Projects

Conversation with Ted Hunt about his exceptional initiative Circa Lunar.

Daylight Saving Time Presskit by Society for Research on Biological Research.