9 Matching Annotations
  1. Aug 2018
    1. Nature has been incorporated into social theorizing only in as far as it either has become an object to which meaning is attributed and which hence figures as part of human reflexivity, as object met with emotions or attitudes; or, it is seen as an object of transformation by those forces which act upon it: economic forces, but foremost forces emanating from science and technology. The natural environment, including the biosphere and a multitude of environmental risks which have come to the fore today, negate clear-cut boundaries between the effects of human intervention, and hence agency, and synergistic processes which are 'natural' but still a result of human interaction with the environment. Time, it has been emphasized, is not only embedded in symbolic meaning or intersubjective social relations but also in artifacts, in natural and in culturally made ones. Likewise, the ongoing transformation and endangering of the natural environment is performed by processes which are chemical and atmospheric, biological and physical. But they all interact with social processes tied to energy production and use, modes of food production and land utilization, demographic pressures and possible interferences through use of tech-nology.

      Nowotny seems to share Adam's concern about extracting nature and natural time from social constructions of time.

      Perhaps this is a good place to embed the study's disaster event temporality as a way to further make sense of DHN social coordination and actions/reactions of disaster-affected people?

    2. The claim to the existence of a concept of 'social time', distinct from other forms of time, was thus made early in the history of social thought. It continues to focus upon the claims of the peculiar nature of the 'social constitution' or the 'social construction' of time. These claims evidently put the category of 'social time' into the wider realm of 'symbolic time', a cultural phenomenon, the constitution of which has remained the object of inquiry of more disciplines than sociology alone, but which separates it from time in nature, embedded in things and artifacts.

      Early work in social time focused on the social construction of time and symbolic/semiotic representations (see Zerubavel).

      Sociology and other disciplines see time as "embedded in things and artifacts" apart from what Adam refers to as natural time.

    1. Recognising ourselves as having evolved, and thus being the times of nature, allows for the humanly constituted aspects of time to become one expression among the others. Biologists have dispelled the idea that only humans experience time or organise their lives by it. Waiting and timing in nature presuppose knowledge of time and temporality, irrespective of their being symbolised, conceptualised, reckoned, or measured. Yet, once time is constituted symbolically, it is no longer reducible to the communication of organisms or physical signals; it is no longer a mere sensory datum. For a person to have a past and to recognise and know it entails a representational, symbolically based imagination. Endowed with it, people do not merely undergo their presents and pasts but they shape and reshape them. Symbolic meaning thus makes the past infinitely flexible. With objectified meaning we can not only look back, reflect, and contemplate but we can reinterpret, restructure, alter, and modify the past irrespective of whether this is done in the light of new knowledge in the present, to suit the present, or for purposes of legitimation.

      Still struggling a bit with this section but I think Adam is proposing that if we break down the barriers between understanding social time as symbolic and natural time as objective, that we can borrow methods of sensemaking from natural time and apply them to social time, it broadens our ways of knowing/understanding human temporal experience.

    2. In other words, the idea of time as socially constituted depends fundamentally on the meaning we impose on 'the social', whether we understand it as a prerogative of human social organisation or, following Mead, as a principle of nature.

      In a long prior passage about how time is conceptualized in nature and in social coordination, Adam argues that "time" as a social construct should be thought of holistically and not broken into dichotomies to be compared/contrasted.

    3. A brief expansion of these general social science assumptions about nature will clarify this point. Nature as distinct from social life is understood to be quantifiable, simple, and subject to invariant relations and laws that hold beyond time and space (Giddens 1976; Lessnoff 1979· ~yan 1979). This view is accompanied by an understanding of natural time as coming in fixed, divisible units that can be measured whilst quality, complexit~, ~nd mediating knowledge are preserved exclusively for the conceptuahsat10n of human social time. On the basis of a further closely related idea it is proposed that nature may be understood objectively. Natural scientists, explain Elias (1982a, b) and Giddens ( 1976), stand in a subject-object relationship to their subject matter. Natural scientists, they suggest, are able to study objects directly and apply a causal framework of analysis whilst such direct causal links no longer suffice for the study of human society where that which is investigated has to be appreciated as unintended outcomes of intended actions and where the investigators interpret a pre-interpreted world. Unlike their colleagues in the natural sciences, social scientists, it is argued, stand in a subject-subject relation to their subject matter. In a?ditio? to the differences along the quantity-quality and object-subject d1mens10ns nature is thought to be predictable because its regularities -be they causal, statistical, or probabilistic -are timeless. The laws of nature. are c?nsi~ered to be true in an absolute and timeless way, the laws of society h1stoncally developed. In contrast to nature, human societies are argued to be fundamentally historical. They are organised around :alues, goals, morals, ethics, and hopes, whilst simultaneously being mfl~enc~d by tradition, habits, and legitimised meanings.

      Critique of flawed social science perception of natural science as driven by laws, order, and quantitative attributes (subject-object) that are observable. This is contrasted with perception about social science as driven by history, culture, habit, and meanings which are socially constructed qualitative attributes (subject-subject).

    4. Since our traditional understanding of natural time e~erged as inadequate and faulty we have to recognise that the analysis of social time is flawed by implication.

      Adam states that "social time" theories should be contested since social science disciplinary understanding of "natural time" is incorrect.

    5. Past, present, and future, historical time, the qualitative experience of time, the structuring of 'undifferentiated change' i?to episodes, all are established as integral time aspects of the subJect matter of the natural sciences and clock time, the invariant measure, the closed circle, the perfect symmetry, and reversible time as our creations.

      Adam's broader definition of "natural time" which is socially constructed and not just a physical phenomena.

    6. Sorokin and Merton (1937) may be said to have provided the 'definitive' classic statement on the distinction between social and natural time. They associate the physical time of diurnal and seasonal cycles with clock time and define this time as 'purely quantitative, shorn of qualitative variation' (p. 621). 'All time systems', Sorokin and Merton suggest further, 'may be reduced to the need of providing means for synchronising and co-ordinating the activities and observations of the constituents of groups' (p. 627).

      classic definition of "social time" vs "natural time". This thinking is now contested.

    7. Whilst social theorists are no longer united in the belief that all time systems are reducible to the functional need of human synchro~is_ation and co-ordination they seem to have little doubt about the validity of Sorokin and Merton's other key point that, unlike social time, the time of nature is that of the clock, a time characterised by invariance and quantity. Despite significant shifts in the understanding of social time, the assumptions about nature, natural time, and the subject matter of the natural sciences have remained largely unchanged.

      Adam argues here that while the concept of "social time" has evolved, social scientists' ideas around "natural time" have not kept pace with new scientific research, and incorrectly continue to be described as constant and quantitative (aka clock time).

      Further, "natural time" incorrectly incorporates other temporal experiences and seems to be used as a convenient counter foil to "social time"