Time and Space in Daily Life Decision Processes - Concept and Research Method

Monday, 11 July 2016: 10:45
Location: Hörsaal 26 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Helga ZEIHER, German Society for Time Policy, Germany
In order to develop an approach for empirical research on shaping daily life, a link between the tendencies in societal structure we were interested in and individuals’agency was found in individuals’ concrete daily actions with reference to time and space. The concept posits shaping of daily life as the stream of decisions each on the forthcoming activity in the day, day after day. Time and space are important in three respects: (1) Each particular decision occurs in a particular place and at a particular time where the concrete personal and environmental situation determines possibilities and constraints of what actually can be done. (2) The stream of activities is continuous. At each spatial-temporal life position, personal goals, intentions, needs and habits have to come in temporal line with present and anticipated future demands arising from the world. Thus the power balance between individual agency and societal structures is negotiated in each decision. (3) Many activities are distant in time, but interconnected over the time by a goal, a project or a habit, thus connected not only by temporal ordering, but also by an intrinsic temporal relation.

Case analyses proceeded in three steps. (1) Using a “production system”, every single decision was reconstructed in order to find out how and why the new activity came about. (2) These analyses were the basis for deriving characteristics of each person’s  environmental scope of activities as well as her or his capabilities, goals, intentions needs and habitualised means of deciding. (3) By comparing individual cases, general characteristics of the influence of more general societal features on individuals’ lives were uncovered.

Thus in order to learn about societal features, research started out from actually available and localized facts in time and space.