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“Making Time: Clocking Social Relations” Review

In the chapter “Making Time: Clocking Social Relations”, Alan Sears explorers time as a “social construction.” The author estimates that life of a modern society depends greatly on time and that social structure is subordinate to Clock-Time. He raises the questions of individual perception of the time, influence of time on people’s social and everyday day life. Two more important questions raised in the chapter are: time-lines (historical development of the society) and models of the development of the society (social order and conflict). I generally agree with the authors assumptions concerning time and society, however, some issues can be debated. I would like to discuss some questions mentioned above.

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I fully agree with the author that our personal perception of time is absolutely individual and can influence on our social behavior. Sometimes it seems that time runs and sometimes we feel that the minute hand does not move at all. The author assumes that our life depends completely on time, “being on time is a central feature of a contemporary urban life.” (Sears 139). We get up with the clock, we have some time to come to work and we have lunch in definite time, “clock-up seems as natural as the sunrise when you have organized you life (Sears 142).

Considering the statement by Naiman (38), it should be emphasized that the actual importance of social development is based on the obligatory transition of the society from urban to capitalistic structure, as the economic structure modification changes the nature of relations within the society.

Certainly, we should not forget that we still have biorhythms that also influence on our social behavior. One more thing to be mention is the child’s perception of a time. A newborn child does not know about clock and feels only the time of nature. As we grow up, we are learned to be subordinate to social norms that are regulated by clock-time. (Roy, 67)

Another idea that I support is that “the development of time-discipline was a specific strategy developed by employers to regulate the activities of working people rather than as a general necessity in a complex industrial society (Sears 139). It was adopted as a form to control society and this formula is still working.

Furthermore, Naiman says that “we must examine how and why certain forms of social organization and culture came into existence, … and how their change over time” (4). “Time-line” gives the answer to this question. The main point is that past, present and future are closely interconnected. I agree with the idea that knowing history can help us understand and evaluate present society. However, there is one obstacle: the history is “written” by contemporary power, consequently, there always were different points of view on the same historical events, “power controls the history, in schools we learn official versions.” (Sears 150). This statement is also maintained by Naiman (306), as she states that the inequality in social relations, as well as economic position is the key origin of power, which provides further changes in wealth, income, and power differentiation.

Finally, there is still no agreement on the question: which model of development of society is better: social order or conflict. I tend to think that both models are acceptable in certain time under certain conditions, in certain social structure. At the same time, there cannot be cardinal changes in social structure under the social order model. In such case, conflict (Revolutions in particular) are more effective, though stressful.

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Works Cited

Naiman, Joanne. How societies work – class. Power, and change in a Canadian context. 4th ed. New York: Nelson, 2004.

Roy, William G. Making Societies: The Historical Construction of Our World. Los Angeles: Pine Forge Press, 2001.

Sears, Alan & Cairns, James. A Good Book, in Theory – Making Sense Through Inquiry. 2nd ed. Ontario: University of Toronto Press, 2010.

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