Geographical perspectives on time

Geographical variations in the temporal Organization of societies, at scales from the international to the local, and the many ways (coordination, precision, movement, distribution) in which times and spaces are interconnected, have prompted geographical work on many facets of time and timing over the last 30 years. The paper reviews that work. However, only in a minority of areas has work on geographical dimensions of time and timing been the distinctive product of a spatial discipline since, at the same time, certain geographical and spatial dimensions of temporal structures and time-consciousness have been discussed by writers from other disciplines.
The paper begins by situating geographical work on time in relation to the wider field of time studies, characterizing geographers as, for the most part, consumers of interpretive frameworks from outside the discipline, and especially from history. We then identify and outline three areas in which there have been relatively distinct theoretical work by geographers, namely chronogeography, time-geography, and time-space compression. Thereafter the paper considers five geographical themes in work by both geographers and others, each of which points to certain ways in which previously influential interpretive frameworks require reformulation. These themes are those of spatial variations in temporal structures and forms of time-consciousness (which has become more prominent as the social sciences struggle to evade the influence of the socalled « modernization thesis »); of the multiple times and Spaces copresent in any society or locality; of the ways in which different timed spaces maintain their heterogeneous character, rather than converging into a homogeneous Modern Time; of the relations between timing on the one hand, and travel and Communications on the other, much studied in recent years; and ofthe significance of time is symbolic character in constituting culturally-distinct time senses and time keeping Systems. These brief discussions of current dynamics within the field of time studies lead to a concluding section that points to some of the important areas for future geographical work.

Erschienen in: traverse 1997/3, S. 36