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Time geography
Linköping University, Department of Thematic Studies, Technology and Social Change. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences. (Tema, Teknik och social förändring)ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4133-1204
2017 (English)In: Oxford bibliographies in geographyArticle, review/survey (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Time geography is an integrative approach to studying the coordination of human activities in society and nature. It concerns environmental problems caused by humans and aims to develop knowledge about human life that may facilitate social and ecological sustainability. Time geography is interested in the idea of competition in and for time and space, and time-geographic analyses, often applying a bottom-up perspective, study how individuals’ everyday activities are arranged and coordinated in time in the context of the geographical location of important places, such as home, work, and service centers. Planning at urban and regional levels gains from knowledge of how peoples’ access to work, service, and necessary resources relates to regulations; physical, temporal, and societal structures; and capacities for social cohesion. Precisely defined locations in time and space are important for time-geographic analyses. Torsten Hägerstrand, the founder of time geography, suggested in the 1950s that places should be defined by coordinates, which is one basis for geographic information systems (GIS). Data collection on daily activities gains from technologies like the Global Positioning System (GPS) and information and communication technology (ICT) devices. Computers facilitate analyses of large data sets, which are important in many empirical time-geographical studies. The basic time-geographical assumptions that time and place are vital for understanding human life make the approach simultaneously abstract and mundane. Since it is difficult to find precise words to express such complex but self-evident phenomena, a time-geographic visual language—a notation system—gives a processual understanding of sequences of events in time and space. The main concept in this language is trajectory, or “path,” which describes an individual’s movements in time-space. All existents with corporeality are regarded as individuals—humans, animals, plants, artifacts, stones, and so on. Such a take on how individuals of various kinds compete for a place in time-space facilitates ecological analyses. However, most time-geographic studies concern human individuals. Every individual is indivisible during his or her lifetime, and the path concept underlines this inevitable corporeality. Everyone is always located somewhere, and the path reveals logical gaps in reasoning: nobody can simultaneously be located at two places or leave out an hour of the day. In its bare form, the path helps analyze peoples’ approaches and departures to and from each other, as well as the duration of activities and movements between, and stays at, places. But the path does not grant an inside perspective on peoples’ wishes and motives. Time geography differs from most social science approaches in its adherence to the indivisible individual, which implies that an individual can’t be averaged. This bottom-up perspective also implies that some meaning is expressed by the mere sequence of individuals’ daily activities. Time geography has increasingly inspired researchers in other disciplines outside geography—in health science and engineering, for example. In a social science context, time geography to some extent has inspired structuration theory.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford University Press, 2017.
Keyword [en]
time geography
National Category
Other Social Sciences not elsewhere specified
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-141198DOI: 10.1093/OBO/9780199874002-0161OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-141198DiVA: diva2:1144505
Available from: 2017-09-26 Created: 2017-09-26 Last updated: 2017-10-12Bibliographically approved

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Ellegård, Kajsa
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