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Adam – 2004 – The Quest for Time Control

Summary: Adam argues that sociotemporal reactions/responses/concepts have deep historical roots and intercultural relationships. Current ways of thinking about time continue to be significantly influenced by post-industrial socio-economic constructs, like clock-time, labor efficiencies (speed/compression), value metaphors (commodity, control), and geopolitics (colonialization, power). From this foregrounding, Adam introduces the concept of timescapes — “a cluster of temporal features, each implicated in all the others but not nec­essarily of equal importance in each instance.”

Synthesis: Adams argues here and through her other papers that social science researchers need to focus less on the obvious temporal conflicts in everyday life and focus more on the “socio-environmental impacts, underlying assumptions and their material expressions, institutional processes and recipients’ experiences, hidden agendas and power relations, unquestioned time politics and ‘othering practices.”

Adam further notes how important it is to understand how people factor into discordant time compressions through everyday sociocultural interactions — which she refers to as “the human-technology-science-economy-equity-environment constellation.”

The control of time is futile in an interconnected network where hyper-compression has effectively rendered duration/intervals of time as unmeasurable. If temporality cannot be “measured, fixed, regulated or controlled” (see timescapes image), then time cannot be controlled. Subsequently, we need other approaches to be “in the realm of instantaneity.”

Foundational concepts in this study: Socio-historical-cultural explorations of time, timescapes, network time, clock time

Agreement in related work: Adam’s books are influenced by and have influenced the leading theoretical work on sociotemporality by Zerubavel, Giddens, Virilio, Castells, Hassan, and Nowotny.

Contested areas: In particular, Adam diverges from Virilio’s incomplete theory on time compression as it related to cultural transformation. Claims it lacks adequate theoretical description/understanding of how people in the high-tempo dromosphere in his writings, (timescape in her work) interact with time.

Gaps/Limits in this study: For my purposes, the timescape work doesn’t fully engage with virtual coordination/social media which were still quite new in 2004. Also, the timescape concept doesn’t seem to incorporate the spatial aspects of time, especially in the global setting. This seems odd considering the extensive citation of Castells.

Connections to my work: sociotemporality, globalization

Annotated paper:

Adam – 2004PS-ENH – The Quest for Time Control

Published inannotationstemporality