Presentation on theme: "'Exploring the changing temporalities of everyday life: multiple methods of attack.' Dale Southerton (Sociology & The Morgan Centre, Manchester University)"— Presentation transcript:
'Exploring the changing temporalities of everyday life: multiple methods of attack.' Dale Southerton (Sociology & The Morgan Centre, Manchester University) Presentation for NCRM Research Methods Festival: Researching socio-cultural change stream, 3 July, Oxford University.
Introduction: structure of the presentation A story – from the ‘freezer’ to the ‘temporal re- organisation of daily life’. A ‘pet project’ on freezers – an object biography approach Convenience and harriedness – the contradictions and ambivalences of interviewees Checking my claims – survey data Past lives – analysing ‘day in the life of’ diaries from the Mass Observation Archive. Conclusion: multiple methods of ‘attack’ and the importance of historical data.
Defrosting the freezer (with Elizabeth Shove) Aim: to understand the ‘normalisation’ of the freezer. Methods – anything cheap and easy: participant observation; content analysis of freezer cookery books; interviews with ‘kitchen producers’ and ‘kitchen consumers’. Found: the freezer has become a time machine! Objects embody socio-cultural change: a commentary on changing meanings and forms of daily life.
From convenience to coordination: household interviews Interviewed 20 households located in a suburb of Bristol, England. Made no distinction between interviewing partners together or separate – 30 people were interviewed in total (7 couples and 13 people alone). ‘Random’ sample comprising single households, couples with and without children and respondents' age varied between 25 and 65. Interviews lasted on average 2 hours. I asked: (a)general impression of time squeeze; (b)detailed accounts of previous week day and weekend day, (c)discussion of the ‘rhythms’ of daily life. Interview data gets at the contradictions and ambivalences of temporal experiences.
Hot & cold spots: coordinating moments of togetherness
Harriedness: checking my claims (with Mark Tomlinson) Health and Lifestyle Survey data first collected in 1984/5 to form a random sample of 9003 respondents aged 18 or over and resident in private households in Great Britain. One question asked: ‘Indicate how well the description ‘Usually pressed for time’ fits your life’. Respondents had four options in reply – ‘not at all’, ‘somewhat’, ‘fairly well’, ‘very well’. Taking these responses as the dependent variable in ordered logistic regression models, we analysed the extent that people reported feeling pressed for time in terms of: social class, age, gender, life-course, hours worked, and consumption orientations. We also analysed the data in relation to a number of less commonly used variables: the effect of shift work, going out to meet people, and omnivorousness.
Some of the findings Only 25% of the sample reported the response ‘not at all’. The variables that correlated with higher scores of feeling ‘pressed for time’ were: Greater number of hours spent in paid work Professional and managerial occupations Working in a supervisory role Women in the same occupations as men Having young children made men feel more pressed for time when compared with mothers of young children working flexible hours as opposed to shifts frequently going out to meet people (as opposed to going out but without arranging to meet other people); omnivorous consumption orientations
So what has changed?: ‘Day in the Life of’ diaries from 1937 Mass Observation began in 1937 with the aim of creating an ‘Anthropology of ourselves’. National panel of volunteers who responded on a regular basis to questionnaires and directives, which included writing ‘day diaries’. Diarists were asked to repeat the diary format on every 12th day of the month. Analysed the diaries from Saturday 12th June and Monday 12th July. Fourteen female diarists were selected on the basis of the legibility of diaries. Self-selective sample. Wide variations in what people recorded in their diaries.
Some of the findings Women (and people more generally) in 1937 worked much harder in both paid and unpaid work The temporal rhythms of daily life were relatively rigid by today’s standards and were collectively coordinated. Meal times (fixed around work patterns and same for everyone). ‘Going out times’ (pubs), women washed clothes on same day and tended to be at the same stage of work – so pop around next door while we hang out washing! The rhythm of housework – Mondays wash day because Sunday roast, make a stew and cook at same time, warm to dry cloths if necessary, hot water so bath day).
Conclusion ‘Multiple methods of attack’ means: Rummage around the Social Science toolbox and use varieties of methods to fit the set of unfolding questions/problems being addressed. Find the data that is out there and supplement with the collection of (inventive) new data: use what is out there to inform research design. Allows us to look at varieties of data from different angles in order to build a picture (an empirically informed story) of socio-cultural change. Importance of empirically examining the past.
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