A Geography of Time

A Geography of Time

The Temporal Misadventures of A Social Psychologist, or How Every Culture Keeps Time Just A Little Bit Differently

Book - 1997
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Baker & Taylor
Looks at the time sense of various cultures, and discusses the physical and psychological impact of the ways in which we keep time

Perseus Publishing
In this engaging and spirited book, eminent social psychologist Robert Levine asks us to explore a dimension of our experience that we take for grantedour perception of time. When we travel to a different country, or even a different city in the United States, we assume that a certain amount of cultural adjustment will be required, whether it’s getting used to new food or negotiating a foreign language, adapting to a different standard of living or another currency. In fact, what contributes most to our sense of disorientation is having to adapt to another culture’s sense of time.Levine, who has devoted his career to studying time and the pace of life, takes us on an enchanting tour of time through the ages and around the world. As he recounts his unique experiences with humor and deep insight, we travel with him to Brazil, where to be three hours late is perfectly acceptable, and to Japan, where he finds a sense of the long-term that is unheard of in the West. We visit communities in the United States and find that population size affects the pace of lifeand even the pace of walking. We travel back in time to ancient Greece to examine early clocks and sundials, then move forward through the centuries to the beginnings of ”clock time” during the Industrial Revolution. We learn that there are places in the world today where people still live according to ”nature time,” the rhythm of the sun and the seasons, and ”event time,” the structuring of time around happenings(when you want to make a late appointment in Burundi, you say, ”I’ll see you when the cows come in”).Levine raises some fascinating questions. How do we use our time? Are we being ruled by the clock? What is this doing to our cities? To our relationships? To our own bodies and psyches? Are there decisions we have made without conscious choice? Alternative tempos we might prefer? Perhaps, Levine argues, our goal should be to try to live in a ”multitemporal” society, one in which we learn to move back and forth among nature time, event time, and clock time. In other words, each of us must chart our own geography of time. If we can do that, we will have achieved temporal prosperity.

Book News
As a visiting professor at universities in Brazil, Japan, and Swede, Levine (psychology, California State U., Fresno) experienced firsthand the diverse cultural shadings of social time literacy. His answers to where life is the slowest and fastest as well as healthiest and wealthiest with Japan as a case study in contradictions is grounded in his pace-of-life study of 31 countries. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.

Publisher: New York : BasicBooks, c1997
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780465028924
Characteristics: xx, 258 p. ; 22 cm


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Nov 07, 2011

A fascinating book for anyone who has spent all their life in industrialized societies such as Canada. We are so indoctrinated by our schools with a time centered existence that it's a shock to hear vivid descriptions of how people live in a totally opposite, event driven time. The speed with which we live our clock-driven lives varies too: richer, industrialized, populous, northern, individualistic are all adjectives of time-driven societies. His self-evaluation quiz pp.20-21 is worth the whole book.


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Dec 26, 2015

smorganmacdonald thinks this title is suitable for 12 years and over


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