Context: 'Speeding up of time' (postmodern compression of time) in higher education - time tends to be taken-for-granted in higher education. When it is considered, it tends to take a simplistic, clock-time approach (taken to be commonsensical but clock-time = social and cultural construction)
Aim: To examine what a temporal approach can offer studies of higher education; to examine "the dominant, taken-for-granted conception of time-clock time-which involves a linear, quantitative, cumulative, homogenized, abstract and decontextualized conception of time" (p.141)
Theoretical frame: Sociocultural notions of time (Adam)
Discussion: Reviews work on clock time (Adam, Whipp & Sabelis, 2002): the four Cs: creation, commodification, colonization and control of time.
Clock time = assumed to be 'natural' but it is not - it's precision and invariability is a creation; a by-product of industrialization (but began long before for religious purposes). Natural time, in contrast, is variable, erratic and context-dependent. In higher education, "the triumph of clock time is manifest at all levels. Academic life is thoroughly structured by clock time rhythms, organizing and ordering activities, among other things, into classes, terms, funding periods and assessment cycles. Internalization of the norms of clock time belongs to the hidden curriculum of education, as at lower levels schoolchildren learn to adapt to externally formulated timetables with regular and fixed slots for arrival, lessons, breaks, eating and other school-day activities" (p.144)
Commodification = ('time is money') - clock time is concerned with money and efficiency (production and profit). The coupling of an abstracted understanding of time with the abstraction of relative wealth into 'money' = permitted the commodification of time: "inherently and intimately linked with money, and, at the same time, an integral component of production" (p.144). Time in everyday life/ leisure has also been commodified because of its status as a 'scarce resource' - but accumulation of money and time are profoundly different - more money = infinite wealth increments; more time invested = closer to death (as a finite resource). Time as commodity = strongly linked to power: "embedded in time politics, creating and sustaining hierarchies in temporal relations" (p.145).
Control = time=money maxim has resulted in human imposition of control over time (e.g. multitasking, efficiency drives, removal of unproductive activities). Time control = connected to the compression of time (Adam, 2004): faster time = greater production = higher profit. In higher education = translates most visibly into work of academics: "time control can be either external or self-controlled. It can refer, for instance, to external time management systems in which academics are required to report on which tasks, and for how long, they have allocated their working time, but also to internalized time control in the form of being continuously aware of the need to use time as productively and efficiently as possible" (p.146).
Colonisation of/with = colonization with is global imposition of Western clock time; colonization of is "penetration of clock time into all levels and forms of activities" (p.146). Also, past and future also colonized "in terms of what threats, costs or benefits they hold for the present" (p.146). Future = 'what's-in-it-for-us" (Adam, 2004, 142) - future= subordinated and colonized by the present.
Postmodernity = advent of new technologies = shifted our relationship with time (Hassan & Pursar, 2007; p.147) - Hassan (2003) makes a case for 'network time' (massively compressed clock time, which takes into account new modes that permit synchrosity and instantaneous communication). Rosa (2009, 2010) identifies 3 forms of time acceleration:
Technological acceleration (speeding up of transportation, communication, production)
Social change (destabilization of social structures or family/ work relations)
Pace of life (experiences of the quickening of time)
Rosa argues that this is partly because of secularization and less importance placed on waiting for the ever after. With the increasing speed of life, the future becomes smaller, because there is less time for contemplation and careful planning: "In modern society, the future became a fortune, a site to be conquered and made profit of by rational planning and effective measures; while, in late modern society, the future has turned out a fiction, something that is uncertain, volatile, chaotic and beyond human control" (p.148-9), leading to 'short-termism' (Hassard, 2002). Adam (2004) argues that "when the complex, simultaneous,
instantaneous and volatile network time is combined with the linear, sequential, invariable and predictable clock time, conflicts and paradoxes emerge" (p.149) - with time becoming less predictable/ more volatile. Ironically, devices designed to facilitate control of time contribute to pressures and colonization of time. In higher education context, the alignment (conflation) of higher education policy with innovation policies "emphasizes the need to speed up the transfer of new knowledge and skills from academia to industry in order to accelerate innovation flows, and so promote the economic growth and competitiveness of firms, regions, nations and ...global markets" (p.149). Within institutions, universities need to be 'agile' so as to compete on shifting terrains and in ever-changing new 'markets', competing for rankings, resources, staff, students.
Our relationships with time are always plural and contested - Adam (1995) argued that not all time is money' (e.g. caring does not follow timetables and has no (little) monetary value). In higher education, there are 'shadow times' (shadows of dominance of clock time) = "behind official schedules and time discipline, such as time for personal development and ripening of ideas" (p.150). This plurality necessitates a more holistic understanding of time = as timescape (Adam, 1995). Timescape encompasses multiple times: natural time, biographical time, generational time, subjective time, context-dependent and embodied time - see Adam (2000) for discussion of 4 Ts: temporality, tempo, timing, timeframe.
In her earlier work (Ylijoki & Mantyla, 2003), the author identified 4 time perspectives in their data collected with Finnish academics: scheduled time, timeless time, contracted time and personal time. Author analyses these categories through the lens offered by Adam's 4 Ts.
Scheduled time = as timeframe "narrow and fragmented into unconnected events and episodes" (p.153); timing = fixed and largely out of an individual's control; temporality = cyclical and linear processes, and continuity and change; tempo = hectic. "Altogether, scheduled time represents a clear manifestation of social acceleration taking place in higher education" (p.153).
Timeless time = opposite of scheduled time; freedom to define timeframe, timing, temporality and tempo.
Contracted time = perspective of short-term/ fixed-term workers and is "oriented towards the end of the present contract (how much time do I have left?), accompanied with a worry about the future (how/ when/ where can I get the next contract?)" p.154. Timeframe = fixed time of contract; timing = getting the timing right and being vigilant (to get the next contract); temporality = series of contracts patchworked together; tempo = fast and urgent - finishing one contract, securing another contract. "Taken together, contracted time also speaks for acceleration in academic work" (p.154).
Personal time = comes to fore when academics look at holistic situation = "is based on an awareness of the finitude of human existence, which raises such existential questions as how to use your limited lifetime, what eventually is important, what the relationship between work and life should be, and, ultimately, how to live a
good life" (p.154) - sacrifices are particularly important and thus "concerns a balance between time devoted to academic work and to other commitments in life" (p.154).
Core argument: In higher education, "The basic temporal problem is that externally imposed scheduled time, often combined with the pressure of contracted time, tends to colonize timeless time and personal time" (p.155; for academic staff). Yet there are pleasures to be found in different time perspectives = resulting in temporal conflicts.
Multiple futures require imagination, speculation and constructing various possibilities (p.155). In contrast, "Scheduled future involves a careful assessment of employment prospects, well-defined target setting and planning on how to reach goals and targets... risks and doubts inherent in the future are bracketed, and instead it is believed that, by working hard and avoiding time wasting, it is possible to control the future and achieve one's goal" (p.156) - see Clegg (2010).