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Publication - Professor Dale Southerton

    ‘Squeezing Time’

    Allocating Practices, Coordinating Networks and Scheduling Society


    Southerton, D, 2003, ‘‘Squeezing Time’: Allocating Practices, Coordinating Networks and Scheduling Society’. Time & Society, vol 12., pp. 5-25


    The ‘time squeeze’, notions of ‘rush’ and ‘harried’ are popular concerns in contemporary society. This article reports on interviews with 20 suburban households who all suggested that people feel increasingly harried. Respondents were quick to suggest a set of generic narratives to explain the causes of ‘harriedness’, notably that people ‘work more’ and ‘consume more’ - the same explanation offered by prominent academic analyses. However, such explanations did not tally with their ‘experiences’ of harriedness. It is argued that ‘harriedness’ was generated by a felt need to allocate and schedule practices within designated time frames (which created hot spots). This was ‘necessary’ in order to coordinate practices within social networks and to ‘free-up’ other time frames (cold spots) for interaction with significant others. On the one hand, this suggests a rationalized conception of time as subject to personal control. On the other, such individual responses (to schedule and allocate) to the perceived ‘time squeeze’ were responses to a collective problem. In a society where increasingly people feel the need to generate personal schedules, temporal alignment within networks becomes problematic. In attempting to schedule practices, which often required employment of convenience devices and services, respondents reported a growing anxiety that care is compromised by convenience. It was this anxiety that made the ‘time squeeze’ discourse meaningful to respondents.

    Full details in the University publications repository