Lyman and Scott, "Time Tracks"

  1. Social time is qualitative not quantitative and its qualities serve to produce the rhythms, pulsations and beats of social life. – paraphrase of Sorokin and Merton
    1. DEF: Time Tracks = “temporal periods employed by individuals, groups, and whole cultures to designate the beginnings or the termination of things.
  2. Examples
    1. life span = childhood + adolescence + adulthood + old age
    2. 20th century = progressive era + WWI + roaring 20s +depression +WWII + 50s + 60s + 70s + Reagan-Bush + 90s
    3. the Jazz Age = May Day riots 1919 - stock market crash 1929
    4. the 60s = JFK assassination - Nixon resignation
    5. the nuclear age = 1945 - the present
  3. “the historicity of social phenomena”
  4. “temporality”
  5. What we’ve talked about so far, time-wise
    1. inner time vs. world time
    2. social construction of clock and calendar time
    3. social construction of memory
    4. time as a medium through which we move
Analytic Features of Time Tracks
  1. humanistic <> fatalistic
  2. humanistic <> “subjective experience that activities are governed by personal decision, are entered into with a sense of mastery or control, and are exhibited through self expression”
  3. fatalistic <> “subjective experience that these activities are matters of obligation or compulsion, are outside the active domination of the social actor, and are vehicles for coercive or conformist rather than individual acts of expression.”
  1. Some properties of temporality
    1. subjective sense of before and after
    2. subjective sense of always-ness
    3. subjective sense of again-ness
    4. here and now
    5. eternal present
    6. shame and embarrassment > now has no end
    7. humiliation > now has no end
    8. linear time – moments following moments
    9. connected events
    10. subjective sense of duration
  2. temporality <> moods: subjective experience of duration varies over episode > depression or despair
Normative structure of temporality
  1. Pace and Sequence Norms (and duration norms related to pace – you’re taking too long, dear)
  2. Micro and macro components – generations, face to face, turn taking, etc.
  3. Bureaucratic and Interpersonal
  4. DJR on “notification norms”
  5. “In short, the physical pace of body movement and speech may be rated, contextually, according to its proximity or departure from acceptable norms.” (40)
  6. Norms are specific to developmental periods
    1. “Promising rookie”
    2. “Just an undergrad” vs. “Amazing for an undergrad”
    3. “Getting near that age when you can’t be too careful about…”
  7. Social context of age appropriateness and precociousness – passing ages where someone famous did something and realizing that you’ll never be a .
    1. Mozart’s first symphony
    2. Jesus teaching the rabbi’s at age 12
    3. Ice skater wins gold medal at 15
    4. Mozart was already dead by 38
  8. Termination and Gracefulness
    1. “…persons at end of time tracks are sometimes called upon to mobilize maximum control over self. … Thus, both kings and killers are constrained to display aloof detachment or joking lightheartedness at the execution block. Death conduct in general is of such a morally significant nature that those who go to their deaths with cheerfulness and equanimity are often honored for lightening the burden of those who must witness their death and remember it.” (43.3)
  1. Waiting
    1. cyclical – compare situations with up time and dead time
    2. linear – life until death (e.g., millenialists (chiliastic))
      1. Cf. “Waiting for Lefty,” “Waiting for Godot”
      2. Glass ceiling, frozen in place, waiting for one’s ship to come in,
  2. Time out
    1. Coffee breaks, vacation, reverie, adventure
  3. Withdrawal
    1. Amorous couples in their own (temporal) world
    2. Dropouts, hippies, etc. Note here we have rejections of normal sequencing, spending too long in stages, not participating in the modern or the latest (throwbacks and the like)
    3. Compare Katz’ notion that being a badass is a refusal to adjust the self to the requirements of situations. Withdrawal from time tracks may be a refusal to adjust one’s own clock and calendar to that of the larger group
    4. When cops tell loiterers to “move it along” are they reacting to a withdrawal from the usual temporal flow?
  4. Time Panic
    1.  coming to end of time track without having completed activity at hand or sudden interruption of time track
      1. Examples
        1. Sudden catastrophes – fires in theaters
        2. Short time – Japanese bowing, joking repartee
        3. Endings – last time
        4. Rebecca syndrome – new incumbent must fulfill promise/shoes of previous incumbent and may fail and lose position
        5. Cinderella syndrome – being subject to an imminent future deadline (a person in rented attire)
        6. Dracula syndrome – need to be in a certain place at a certain time – need to repair to private place to get oneself back in order – colostomy, breast feeding?, uniformed folk in mufti
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