The Social Life of Time and Methods: Studying London’s Temporal Architectures

Harris, Ella and Coleman, Rebecca. 2020. The Social Life of Time and Methods: Studying London’s Temporal Architectures. Time & Society, 29(2), pp. 604-631. ISSN 0961-463X [Article]

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This paper contributes to work on the social life of time. It focuses on how time is doubled; produced by and productive of the relations and processes it operates through. In particular, it explores the methodological implications of this conception of time for how social scientists may study the doubledness of time. It draws on an allied move within the social sciences to see methods as themselves doubled; as both emerging from and constitutive of the social worlds that they seek to understand. We detail our own very different methodological experiments with studying the social life of time in London, engaging interactive documentary to elucidate nonlinear imaginaries of space-time in London’s pop-up culture (Ella Harris) and encountering time on a series of walks along a particular stretch of road in south east London (Beckie Coleman). While clearly different projects in terms of their content, ambition and scope, in bringing these projects together we show the ability of our methods to grasp and perform from multiple angles and scales what Sharma calls ‘temporal architectures’. Temporal architectures, composed of elements including the built environment, commodities, services, technologies and labour, are infrastructures that enable social rhythms and temporal logics and that can entail a politicized valuing of the time of certain groups over others. We aim to contribute to an expanded and enriched conceptualisation of methods for exploring time, considering what our studies might offer to work on the doubled social life of time and methods, and highlighting in particular their implications for an engagement with a politics of time and temporality.

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The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Beckie's research was supported by a virtual residency from Walking Lab. Ella's research was funded by an AHRC Studentship and Research Training Support Grant and an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellowship.


time, methods, performativity, temporality, London

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13 January 2020Accepted
18 March 2020Published Online
1 May 2020Published

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22 Jan 2020 15:53

Last Modified:

09 Jun 2021 15:19

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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