Commuting Time Study: Outline


A study of how commuters define their commuting time, how those definitions shape commuters’ experiences of and responses to commuting time, and whether commuting time is or should be a part of the paid workday.


Belief 1: My preliminary research indicates a widespread belief in the distinction between (a) natural time, and (b) human constructions of time. Natural time is said to refer to planets revolving, seasons changing, day-and-night cycles, biological ageing, and so on. Human constructions of time alternatively include clocks and calendars, our perceptions of duration, and the rhythms of our collective practices (e.g. commuting peak hours).

Belief 2: The complementary belief presents in this research that human constructions of time artificially represent what is naturally determined about time. First there was a natural timing such as planetary revolutions, then humans constructed various portrayals or versions of that time such as in clocks and calendars.

Belief 3: My research also indicates that people regularly characterise the finite time they are alive as their natural (because it is biological) time. As the constructed timings of work-related hours encroach on what people perceive to be their naturally biological time, so they report feeling as though they live according to artificial tempos.

My study: I am curious about how this belief – that we largely live according to artificial timings – might fuel discontentment around commuting time experiences.


My study will ask: (i) how commuters define their commuting time, (ii) how their definitions shape their commuting time experiences, (iii) how commuters compensate themselves for sacrificing their perceived natural/biological time to unpaid commuting (constructed/artificial) time, and (iv) whether commuting time is part of the workday, or adjacent to it, and its consequent status in relation to pay.

I will use three empirical and theoretical methods:

Blog: Researching everyday, media, and scholarly sources concerned with how people define time, via a blog maintained since June 2014.

Survey: Acquiring new data on impressions of commuting time via a commuter survey.

Theory: Integrating sociological literature that explores relations between time, commuting, and emotions.


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