Time and Social Structure

This project studies the relations between time as a singular and collectively shared structure, and time as a variety of subjective experiences. Another focus is the conceived distinction of natural time from socialised or subjective constructions of time.


1. Article “Is It Ever Natural to Be Late?” in Colloquium. This article addresses the issues that arise when time is interpreted to be purely culturally relative. In particular I critique the associated impression that certain cultures’ lateness protocols are more or less “developed” away from a state of nature than those of other cultures. Theory Keywords: Anthropologies of time in northern Africa, the Caribbean, and the Philippines, Émile Durkheim, Helga Nowotny.

2. Book Naturally Late: Synchronization in Socially Constructed Times. This work attends to sociological and philosophical conceptual separations of natural temporalities from humanly constructed or socialised timings. In considering culturally specific lateness protocols, body modifications, and the environmental impacts of industrialised productions, I re-evaluate the supposedly sequential distinction of natural timings from socially constructed timings. This is important given that if certain times are considered to be more natural than others, a situated politics emerges regarding the associated cultural structures. Furthermore, our personal investments in experiences of lateness, which are embedded within social time, seemingly contradict the constructionist impression that socialised time is merely a contingent misrepresentation of what time actually is. Theory Keywords: Anthropological studies in northern Africa, the Caribbean, and the Philippines, Bergsonism (Henri Bergson, Gilles Deleuze, Leonard Lawler), body modification commentary (Gloria Brame, Mike Featherstone, Victoria Pitts), deconstruction (Jacques Derrida, Emmanual Levinas), Frankfurt School critical theory (Jürgen Habermas, Max Horkheimer, Herbert Marcuse), new criticism (John Crowe Ransom), new materialism, object oriented ontology, phenomenology (Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty), philosophy of time (Aristotle, Anthony Aveni, David Hoy, George Mead, Helga Nowotny), social constructionism commentary (Peter Berger, Ian Hacking, Sally Haslanger, Jean Piaget, Stephen Pinker, Alan Sokal), sociology of time (Barbara Adam, Michael Flaherty, Georg Simmel), structuralism (Pierre Bourdieu, Émile Durkheim, Anthony Giddens, Maurice Halbwachs, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Ferdinand de Saussure).

3. Article “How Much Care Is Enough? Carer’s Guilt and Bergsonian Time” in Health Care Analysis. I engage “carers” as a case study, exploring qualitative and quantitative research undertaken on the types and amounts of guilt that carers are reported to feel regarding the time that they dedicate to caregiving. In evaluating this relation between guilt and time, I integrate contemporary sociological theories of emotion, with Henri Bergson’s positions on the differences between qualitative and quantitative phenomena. This helps me to address the complications that manifest when sociology quantifies either time or subjective (e.g. emotional) states. Theory Keywords: Henri Bergson, Arlie Hochschild, Karl Marx, Rebecca Olson.

4. Book chapter “Climate Change, Socially Synchronised” in What if Culture Was Nature All Along. In this chapter I study discourses that are concerned with the effects of industrialised cultures on the world’s natural, ecological scene. The purpose of this is to identify that the distinction between nature and culture is not clearly a linear path in which nature precedes industrial and cultural production. This includes an examination of the terminology that describes how our planet is “running out of time”. Theory Keywords: Barbara Adam, Martin Heidegger, Edmund Husserl, George Mead, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Raymond Pierrehumbert.

5. Book chapter “Capture, Rhythm: The Spatial Conditions of Photography” in Fly Rhythm. I apply my belief in the structural co-dependence of entities to a phenomenological analysis of the spatial and temporal relations shared between photographed objects. How we appreciate numerous spatial objects simultaneously is the concluding focus in this study of Anne Scott Wilson’s photography. Theory Keywords: George Mead, Maurice Merleau-Ponty.

6. Book chapter “Social Bodies, Social Time: The Matter of the Human Knowledge of Time” in Body Tensions: Beyond Corporeality in Time and Space. Here I study how we come to know time through collectively embodied arrangements and interactions. Theory Keywords: Michael Flaherty, Edmund Husserl, George Mead, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Keith Peiffer, George Simmel, Eviatar Zerubavel.

7. Article “Modifying the Modifier: Body Modification as Social Incarnation” in Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour. By engaging qualitative field analyses of body modifiers’ descriptions of their practices, in this article I study the interconnected temporalities of body modification practices and the associated productions of selves/identities. From this comes considerations of (i) how the timing of corporeal changes can be linked to socially structural change rather than exclusively to notions of self-authorship, and of (ii) when the self originates in relation to its surrounding environment. Theory Keywords: Jacques Derrida, Emmanuel Levinas, Claude Lévi-Strauss, Victoria Pitts, Nikki Sullivan.

8. PhD thesis Time and Transcendence: The Corporeal Conditions for Time and Social Synchronisation. Description.