Towards a culture of non-simultaneity?

In: Time and Society (Special Volume), Jg. 13 (2004) ; Nr. 1, S. 5-26
ISSN: 1461-7463, 0961-463X
Zeitschriftenaufsatz / Fach: Soziologie, Sozialwissenschaften
There are three different concepts and analytical
aspects of social time in contemporary western societies that are
referred to in this article: (1) the different tempos of social processes
and (2) the varying time horizons of ‘socially expected durations’
(Merton, 1986). It is argued that due to spatial, technological and
socio-economic changes a third, more fundamental evolution of
temporality is emerging: (3) an increasing simultaneity of events in
our ‘world at reach’ (Schutz and Luckmann, 1983). The different
tempos and time-scopes being causes and effects of this phenomenal
simultaneity. An increase in simultaneity necessarily provokes an
increase in non-simultaneity. ‘Classical’ mechanisms of temporal
ordering of non-simultaneous events are sequencing and linear processing.
It is claimed, that these mechanisms, typical of industrial
modernity, are complemented by efforts and exigencies of coping
with complexity in a simultaneous mode. It is assumed that the
abilities of actors and social systems of parallel and simultaneous
processing are enhanced but after all remain limited. Therefore, a
growing realm of non-simultaneity remains open to meaningful
interpretation. This is what significance an emerging culture of nonsimultaneity
has. KEY WORDS • non-simultaneity • short-termism •
social time • synchronization • tempo