“How a time-use expert uses her time”

An interesting look at how sociologists who study time use go about their days:

As a sociologist and director of the University of Maryland’s Time Use Laboratory, Sayer explores the ways that gender and social class guide the ways that people use their time. She looks for patterns and consequences of time use and the ways that these actions influence people’s daily lives.

When she’s not in her office, Sayer lives with her mother, who depends on Sayer’s care, as well as her husband and their three cats. And her recent trip to Texas was not for pleasure but instead to visit her sick older brother and take care of family business…

For many people, this blur of activity is a symptomatic of a condition that Sayer’s colleague, University of Maryland sociologist and time-use researcher John Robinson, calls “hurry sickness.”…

She’ll cram the leftover office work somewhere in between tidying up the house, feeding the cats, making dinner, eating (usually around 8), chatting with her mom and husband, cleaning, reading the newspaper and getting to bed by 11:30.

Don’t forget the impact of the invention of clocks on the modern era. And, for a variety of reasons, Americans seem particularly caught up with the clock – even if they aren’t particularly productive all the time. Workplace productivity has increased but that extra leisure time tends to go to things like television and not necessarily towards civic life. I imagine many sociologists have ideas about what would be best for people to do with their time but it is difficult to do many of these things – such as building and maintaining social relationships – within a social system which has additional aims such as making money or pushing mass media.


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