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Coordinating daily practices: time, convenience devices and gender Dale Southerton (ESRC Centre for Research on Innovation and Competition, University.

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Presentation on theme: "Coordinating daily practices: time, convenience devices and gender Dale Southerton (ESRC Centre for Research on Innovation and Competition, University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Coordinating daily practices: time, convenience devices and gender Dale Southerton (ESRC Centre for Research on Innovation and Competition, University of Manchester)

2 Explanations of the time squeeze DO MORE People work more to consume more Dual burden theory THE WAY WE DO THINGS HAS CHANGED A gap between perception and life course trajectories Time increasingly subject to the principles of Taylorization – people fragment and re-sequencing tasks in order to maximise efficiency De-routinization - flexible working and shopping hours weaken socio-temporal structures New technologies create more work or generate new temporal constraints (e.g. TV schedules or email)

3 Harriedness (1) Juggling tasks being overwhelmed with things that need doing and rushing around to get them all done (Samantha) "I find the mornings very very hectic what with trying to feed her, get her dressed, to get myself dressed and get her out the door in time to get her to school… I find myself stressed all the time by trying to get her to places for the time she needs to be there (Cindy)

4 Harriedness (2) Lack of spatial and temporal identity within networks: loss of a whole weekend, so I have to get everything done by Friday or there is a pile of ironing to do on Sunday night, as well as washing from the weekend and just the other stuff you need to do to get ready for a weeks work (Suzanne)

5 Harriedness (3) Lack of alignment between personal socio-temporal constraints within social networks Managing cultural standards and expectations Lack of discipline in the implementation of personal schedules: "first my Mum phoned as I'm about to leave the door, then I'm caught in traffic 'cause I chatted for too long with her, then when I get into work there's no ink in the printer and that's another 20 minutes gone and then I'm up against it all day all because I didn't say to my Mum I'd phone her back, it's my fault (James).

6 Respondents strategies for averting harriedness: Fixed household socio-temporal routines Personal lists Shared diaries and schedulers Use of co-ordinating devices Use of time saving and shifting devices

7 Implications of strategies for averting harriedness Strategies employed to anticipate and avert harriedness do little to really alleviate the underlying problem. In many respects, anticipations of harriedness generate the problem itself. Goods and services sold in the name of convenience as market solutions to harriedness only act to generate the problems they promise to solve – they make the need to control, manage and co-ordinate ones daily schedule more pressing.

8 Hot and cold spots (1) Hot spots were necessary to create temporal space for the counter experience of 'cold spots: "In the main we like to have dinner by half past 5 at the latest. And then in the evenings, I mean it's one of the house rules to have everything cleared away by 7 even if that means somebody has to rush to do their job. So we have eaten, washed up, put away and then we are free. And then it's our potter time." (Mary) "we keep Sundays free as like our quality time but it does make Saturday's a bit hectic, like we try and get everything done so that Sunday is free, so we can spend proper time together." (Steven)

9 Hot and cold spots (2) "I set the cooker sometimes if I want to have…if I have got a long meal, a dish is going to take a long time, sort of two or three hours and I know that I am not going to be home until six… Ill set it to come on at three, so that the time about six or six thirty comes along the food is ready and we can have a proper meal, not something out a packet." (Sarah) "It's a case of getting a balance isn't it. Like for us, we got a dishwasher so that we've got more time on an evening for us but I don't like it, I'd rather wash up because I feel like I've cheated when it goes in there." (Ron)

10 Hot and cold spots (3) On the one hand, convenience devices and services were regarded as essential if hot spots were to be successfully negotiated and cold spots produced. On the other, the forms of convenience necessary to negotiate hot spots also generated anxiety about taking short cuts and not doing a job well – anxieties about a lack of care

11 Five dimensions of time: –Periodicity (the frequency of an activity); –Tempo (the pace of an activity); –Synchronization (the mutual adaptation of activities); –Duration (the length of an activity); –Sequence (the ordering of events).

12 Temporal organisation of practices Fixed practices are critical to the rhythm of any given day and all such practices required: the social involvement of others where a degree of coordination and arrangement was required in order for the practice to be conducted satisfactorily; a high degree of obligation to others; and, significant degrees of personal commitment.

13 Temporal organisation of practices (2) Different kinds of practices have specific temporal characteristics Weakening of institutionally timed events has specific implications for different kinds of practices The temporal re-ordering of practices has particular implications for different social groups: lots of things are planned for me if you like, like all the things the kids do, you know, everything fits around them… once Chloe is at nursery I get some time to myself but then its like I havent got enough time to do anything… I can read a magazine which is nice and get some jobs done but I cant go shopping cause there isnt the time (Deborah).

14 Conclusions (1) Temporal re-ordering a consequence of the erosion of some fixed institutional events which act as coordinating points of social practices. Discourses of time pressure individualise the problem, casting the rationalized scheduling of practices as a matter of personal control. Technological and service innovations around convenience permit individual scheduling, but this only make coordination between practices and people more problematic. Convenience comes with anxiety about doing things properly, about making time for, and spending time with, significant others. This anxiety is alleviated through cold spots which symbolize care and togetherness - but to generate cold spots necessitates hot spots of harriedness.

15 Conclusions (2) Women disproportionately carried the obligations and responsibilities for coordinating hot and cold spots. This required the use of convenience technologies and the anxiety of compromising care. Women (more so than men) attempt to re-institute collective points of temporal coordination. Yet, women were also most constrained by fixed practices within the temporal order. They are charged with individually managing personal schedules in contexts where they have the least control over their own temporal ordering of practices.

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