Time, Capitals and Social Structure

All human events occur in real time. So nationally representative surveys of individuals’ and households’ use of time provide, potentially, uniquely comprehensive and revealing evidence of social conditions. Historical sequences of such surveys provide the clearest of evidence of social change.

The ESRC Centre for Time Use Research, currently based in the Oxford Sociology Department, has been collecting and analysing this sort of data for several decades. It currently holds, in the form of the Multinational Time Use Study, over 100 such datasets, harmonised to promote comparative analysis, with more than a million-and-a-half days of data, and time-use sequences for 20 countries covering up to 65 years of modern history.

This talk will discuss a range of examples of the use of the MTUS evidence to examine issues of social differentiation, the impacts of technical change, processes of accumulation of embodied capitals, and the determination of social structure.