Why Time is a Social Construct
By Joshua Keating | Smithsonian
“What time is it?” is not a question that usually provokes a lot of soul-searching. It’s generally taken for granted that even if we don’t know the correct time, a correct time does exist and that everyone on the planet—whatever time zone they happen to be in—follows the same clock.
University of Missouri management scholar Allen Bluedorn believes time itself is a social construction. “What any group of people think about time ends up being a result of them interacting with each other and socialization processes,” he says.
We measure time not simply in terms of minutes and seconds, but in terms of concepts such as “early,” “late”—or, for that matter, “fashionably late.” What is the length of a “work day”? In the United States, Europe and Japan you’ll get three different answers.
Those subjective views help explain why the standardization of time has often been met with reluctance, if not outright resistance. Historically, countries have not eagerly embraced the global clock—they’ve felt compelled to do so because of the demands of commerce.
The U.S. national time standard, for instance, didn’t emerge until 1883, when it was adopted by the railroads, which needed to maintain common timetables. Before that, cities largely kept their own local time, and many were not happy to have big government and big railroads force standardization on them. “Let the people of Cincinnati stick to the truth as it is written by the sun, moon and stars,” editorialized one newspaper when the changeover was going into effect.
The era of globalization may be finishing the job, as information technology and the international supply chain knit nations together more tightly than ever.
But while it’s possible to synchronize clocks, synchronizing cultures has proven more challenging. One commonly recounted example is a group of American bankers in Mexico who found that their Mexican colleagues were frequently scheduling meetings for hours after they planned to head home for the day.
The famed American anthropologist Edward T. Hall argued that many of these differences are based upon whether a country is “mono- chronic” or “polychronic.” In monochronic societies, including Europe and the United States, time is perceived as fixed and unchanging, and people tend to complete tasks sequentially. In polychronic societies, including Latin America and much of Asia, time is more fluid and people adapt more easily to changing circumstances and new information.
Read the full article at: smithsonianmag.com
Eternal Clock Could Keep Time After Universe Dies
“Ready steady slow”: time slows down when we prepare to move
Physicist: HAARP Manipulates Time
2012: Seed Point of Fractal Time
In Time - Movie Trailer Official
Latest News from our Front Page
Circumcision battle: Mom seeks release from jail after federal lawsuit is dismissed
West Boynton mother on Wednesday gave up trying to get a federal judge to stop her 4 1/2-year-old son from being circumcised as his father wishes â€” a battle that also led to her arrest May 14 on a state court warrant.
An attorney for Heather Hironimus, who lost similar legal challenges in two state courts, notified U.S. District Judge Kenneth ...
"Unhinged" - Circumcision Key to Jewish Psyche?
Endocrinologist traced Jewish behavior to an hormonal imbalance caused by circumcision.
Roger Dommergue was the half-Jewish scion of a wealthy French family that converted to Christianity. He was raised by his Jewish maternal grandmother but was not circumcised. He fought with the Free French air force during World War Two and was a Freemason for a while. He earned PhD ...
Estonia must accept African & Middle Eastern immigrants says politician
Kalle Laanet, an Estonian politician, spoke at the International Migration Forum held in Tallinn. He told the audience that the question is not: Should Estonia take the African and the Middle Eastern immigrants (who illegally entered Southern Europe)? He said the question is: How will Estonia take the immigrants?
â€śToday the issue is not whether Estonia should receive the refugees coming to ...
Rescuing Palmyra: History's lesson in how to save artefacts
With Islamic State militants now inside the historic town of Palmyra in Syria, the question, inevitably, is whether they will destroy the ancient ruins.
As IS continues to sweep through parts of Iraq and Syria, damage to centuries-old artefacts - because IS sees statues and shrines as idolatrous - is plentiful.
But history has shown that, when culturally important sites are under ...
Saudi Arabia Wants to Convert Sweden to Islam
Aje Carlbom is an Associate Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Malmö
Since the 1970s, Saudi Arabia has actively spread its interpretation of Islam, Wahhabism or Salafism, worldwide. It is the most literal version of Islam and affects many young Muslims, who regard society as a place to Islamize, writes social anthropologist Aje Carlbom.
Sweden's Foreign Minister Margot WallstrĂ¶m was ...
|More News » |