Page 1


9 Biological and Sociocultural Perspectives on Time Use Studies Ann Wilcock

People use time in a purposeful way that has meaning for them, and which is influenced by the culture in which they live. Exploring how and why people use time the way they do has the potential to provide a rich source of data on many different biological and sociocultural issues. So it is not surprising that time use surveys originated early this century., often with particular emphasis on obtaining information about the living conditions of " the working class," at the same time as interest was growing on the need to alleviate the less than comfortable social conditions experienced by the vast majority of people in the industrialized world. Most surveys collected data from large population groups for comparative purposes, which was used to inform social planners at national and international levels. Such surveys provide a useful overview, but the integrated complexities of time use also require rigorous exploration, and this type of research is in its infancy. This is because the complexities of human characteristics and the variety of environmental factors are often seen by traditional experimental researchers as contaminants to research design (Yerxa, 1990). Ann Wilcock • School of Occupational Therapy, University of South Australia, Adelaide, South Australia 5000. Time Use Research in the Social Sciences, edited by Wendy E. Pentland, Andrew S. Harvey, M. Powell Lawton, and Mary Ann McColl. Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers, New York, 1999. 189



This suggests that open-minded consideration of different research methodologies, such as those used in developmental and social psychology, anthropology, sociology, history, and evolutionary biology which study people contextually, view their activities diachronically, and recognize individual will, would be helpful additions to traditional survey methods (Yerxa et al., 1989). This chapter addresses biological and sociocultural perspectives of purposeful use of time. Biological perspectives include behaviors responsive to physiological mechanisms such as homeostasis, temporal rhythms, and genetic makeup, and sociocultural perspectives refer to learned patterns of time use that differ from culture to culture, community to community, family to family, and individual to individual according to socialization. In order to illustrate some of the complex foundations on which humans' use of time depends, this chapter begins by reviewing ideas about the biological and sociocultural aspects of temporality, and discusses the need to design time use studies that bring these perspectives together. The latter part of the chapter focuses on approaching the time use question from both the qualitative and quantitative research traditions and discusses various paradigmatic orientations, including "in-depth interviewing" and " history of ideas," which may be used to integrate the complex issues of human temporality as part of time use studies.

BIOLOGICAL AND SOCIOCULTURAL TEMPORALITY To begin to understand the scope and potential of time use research, this section of the chapter briefly overviews the relationship between biological and sociocultural temporality, and the direction taken by several different disciplines that study particular aspects. The purpose is to encapsulate the potential range of the sociocultural and biological issues that are pertinent to time use researchers and to provide an indication that many types of quantitative, qualitative, and critical methodologies will be needed to explore many different kinds of " truth" and " knowing," because the topic is so complex. Biological needs are the primary impetus for people to use time to provide the requirements for everyday living, but it seems that humans simultaneously strive for respect and recognition in how they go about meeting these needs. So it is reasonable to suggest that an integrated exploration of both biological and sociocultural aspects of " being" would enable a more holistic understanding of humans' use of time. It is, however, uncommon for biological and sociocultural determinants of human behavior to be studied in tandem in the present day, because of the scant



agreement between natural and social scientists about research methodologies or even about basic philosophical arguments surrounding the nature versus nurture debate. While such disagreements illustrate a significant focus of interest by scientists from different disciplines, they contrast with how the human nervous system integrates biological needs and sociocultural factors. Because their research separates one aspect from another, it is bound to represent a limited view of the truth, yet this is seldom openly acknowledged. The central nervous system is the driving force behind how each individual uses time. Each brain recognizes the individual it serves as a "whole in interaction with the environment" as part of an open system (von Bertalanffy, 1968, p. 27), and, within this, integrates basic biological temporal mechanisms with high-level psychosociocultural concepts of time. The brain does not differentiate between physical, mental, or social issues in the way that, for example, modern society and medical or psychological practices do (Ornstein & Sobel, 1988), but works as part of " a flow of processes" relating structures and function (von Bertalanffy, 1968, p. 27). As Geoffrey Cowley (1995) asserts, "everything we associate with 'nurture' is at some level a product of our biology—and every aspect of our biology, from brain development to food preference, has been shaped by an environment" (p. 80). The integrative functions of the central nervous system, which process external and internal information, activated by purposeful use of time and influenced by temporal rhythms, are focal to survival, to the maintenance of homeostasis, and to facilitating health and well-being. My own view is that the human need to use time in a purposeful way is an important part of this health-maintaining process. In enabling humans to meet inborn biological needs, it exercises mind and body through activities learned and valued by the culture (Wilcock, 1993). Because I hold this view, readers will appreciate why I perceive it to be important to approach research from a holistic paradigm. Campbell's fascinating exploration of the nature of human temporality in Winston Churchill's Afternoon Nap highlights the integration of nature and nurture by asserting that "the essence of an individual is partly given and partly constructed, fixed as well as free, and that includes his [sic] temporal essence" (1986, p. 391). Campbell recognizes that purposeful use of time is influenced by extremely ancient "timekeeping devices built into living organisms as part of their anatomy," some even before homeostatic mechanisms were evolved. These had "a high priority in evolution, were indispensable for survival" and "as natural as breathing" (p. 12). In fact, " the time schedules of the body are specified by the genes, not by individual choice, and their meaning is to be found in the evolutionary strategies that produced them millions of years ago" (p. 391).



However, humans also have a concept of time beyond the biological that is perhaps as complex as the construction of language. This concept embraces "a remarkably diverse array of mental strategies . . . intuition and logic, emotion and reason, palpable experience and high abstractions, the power to transform space into time, and time into space in the mind" (p. 296). Campbell suggests that biological or psychological temporal structures are an essential aspect of " the built in limits and the built in freedoms that establish what a creature can do and be" (p. 15). There is ample evidence to support the view that human time use is indeed developed according to individual utilization, experience, and sociocultural environments, as sociologists postulate and time surveys measure. It is also true that purposeful use of time is influenced by biological determinants and genetic endowments, which have received less attention from time use researchers in some part because of the limitations of their research tools. Recognition of biological and sociocultural temporal integration, however, is a common theme of theorists addressing human temporality. For example, Luckmann (1991) and Fraser (1992) suggest there are several interlinking layers or hierarchies. Luckmann, argues that "the emergence and subsequent interpenetration of several dimensions in the experience of time were a necessary condition for both the evolution and the ontogenesis of personal identity as the peculiarly human form of life" (p. 151). In his discussion of the relationship between time and sociality, Luckmann describes " the body and inner time," "social interaction and intersubjective time," " time and the social stock of knowledge," and " biography and historical time." Fraser, the founder of the International Society for the Study of Time, in his paper "Human Temporality in a Nowless Universe" (1992), suggests four temporal layers in a "nested hierarchy." These form part of the study domains of four different sciences that espouse different research approaches to each other. They are "time in the physical world" as enunciated by physicists, " time in the life process" as understood by biologists, "socialisation and collective evaluation of time" as appreciated by sociologists and anthropologists, and " time in the organising, communicative and imaginative functions of the mind" as proposed by psychologists. (See Figure 9.1). These different dimensions of time highlight the evolutionary as well as the biological and sociocultural importance of human temporality. The likelihood of the lack of an integrated notion of human temporality is also highlighted, as the interests and study tools of these diverse professional groups differ so vastly. The question can also be posed about where, in these complex structures, the science of time use research fits. Throughout evolution, sociocultural forces and values have influenced how people use their time, concealing innate needs and drives, and



Figure 9.1. Comparison of Luckmann’s and Fraser’s temporal models.

adding ever-increasing complexity. Inborn temporal mechanisms that are part of the physiological apparatus aimed at ensuring survival and health may be basic to all animals, but the slow process of adaptation in response to social evolution of humans has precipitated changes that are not necessarily fitted to healthy living in future environments. I believe that more holistic time use studies could begin to tease out issues relating to these important concerns. However, temporal needs of a biological nature are not easy to distinguish from socioculturally acquired temporal needs, and neither are they omnipotent. They are subject to scrutiny of, and adaptation by, the highly developed cognitive, intellectual, and socioemotional capacities of humans. The two work in partnership, but acquired needs can override biological needs because of the hierarchical structure of the central nervous system (Wilcock, 1993, p. 21). Finding out how these forces and mechanisms influence each other would be a useful objective for time



use studies, particularly for those concerned with the relationship between time use and health, and the temporal expectations imposed upon people by sociocultural norms. Whether the predisposing factor is biological or sociocultural, or a mixture of both, purposeful use of time takes on a value of its own, and biological needs and sociocultural forces are seldom considered at a conscious level. For example, although biological time clocks lead to differing interests throughout the life span and susceptibility to sleep or wakeful states on a daily basis, and sociocultural traditions plus individual learning experience give importance to activity patterns based on " a nine-tofive work ethic" or seasonal variations, it is the activity itself, such as "going to bed" or " harvesting" to which humans pay heed at a conscious level. And the activity itself is important. In fact, it forms the fabric of everyday lives, so much so that research is made difficult because daily activities are so taken for granted that they may not be reported accurately in time diaries, for example. In contrast to the " ultraenvironmentalism" of modern anthropology and sociology, and the reductionist dechronicity of scientific empiricism, there are a few disciplines with holistic approaches to research that combine biological and sociocultural factors, and from which time use researchers could learn. Ethology is one, which argues that the study of behavior should demonstrate the interactions between the inborn, natural aspects of behavior and those determined by experience and learning. Similarly, many sociobiological theories contend that within a "geneenvironmental action model, culture can be seen as the man-made part of the environment, preselected by the specifically human genome. . . . Culture can have no empirical referent outside of the human organisms that invent and transmit it, and, therefore, its evolution is inevitably intertwined with the biological evolution of our species" (van den Berghe, [1989, p. 797]). Snell (1988), in discussing the development of professional groups that accept genetics and environment as interrelated components of life, expresses relief that " the voices of reason . . . are beginning to build ... a factual background for a middle view" (p. 140).

RESEARCH PARADIGMS It is from this middle view that I argue for time use studies to become increasingly holistic. Understanding how the nature, purpose, and values of different research paradigms contrast with and are complementary to each other can be helpful in trylng to establish a mix of methods that can answer questions and explore time use issues from a broader perspective.



Table 9.1 Contrasting Research Paradigms Research paradigm Quantitative




Reductionist Positivist Predetermined structure

Embedded in society Interactive, flexible, and dynamic


Test hypotheses and empirical observations Measure Discover laws Generalize Value free Objective

Holistic Interpretive Flexible as ideas emerge Explore, understand subjective realities Discover meanings Value bound Subjective

Value laden Research cannot be value free Examples: As for Qualitative Critical praxis Self-reflection History of ideas

Values Time use research methods

Examples: Time diary Questionnaire Experience sampling

Examples: As for Quantitative In-depth interview Focus groups Field observation

Uncover inequity Facilitate social action

As a starting point, Table 9.1 sets out, as an example, how the nature, purposes, and values of quantitative, qualitative, and critical research paradigms differ and provides examples of time use research methods from each of these perspectives, which may be used in combination. To assist further, the strengths and weaknesses of these research paradigms are discussed from the point of view of holistic time use research. A major advantage of most traditional time use methodologies is that they bridge the gap between objective and subjective research by gathering qualitative data from within the informant's own context and reality but can also be quantified. In fact, given a sampling method that is random, representative of a particular population, and seen as unbiased, time use methodologies are appealing to empirical researchers, research institutions, and funding bodies. The research approaches most widely accepted by such bodies and, on the whole, viewed as normative by the research establishment are still empirical in nature and greatly influenced by positivism. Positivism assumes that "all true knowledge is scientific, in the sense of describing the coexistence and succession of observable phenomena" (Quinton, 1988, p. 669), and that philosophical and theoretical observations are only significant if they are constructed from proven empirical testing. Quantitative approaches, influenced by positivism, have much to offer



time use researchers and in fact are central to their usual modus operandi. Quantitative " knowledge is best gained through hypothetico-deductive 'scientific method,' " and because it focuses on objectivity and the elimination of bias and error (Connele, Smith, & Wiseman, 1995, pp. 39,46), it has the potential to be rigorous, generalizable, and replicable. It is particularly useful for large population studies, say, for studying the division of labor within households, or to inform urban planning; for times when outcome rather than process is the focus, say, to inform mass media marketing; or for when testing a particular hypothesis, say, of one age group’s time use against another’s. On the down side, and despite the well-recognized values of quantitative research, the strength of the positivist assumptions underlying it has delayed humanist contextual research from being considered acceptable in the eyes of the "scientific" community. Gergen (1982), a social psychologist, is one of many who criticize using traditional science methodology for studying human beings, because he perceives that techniques decontextualize people, are atemporal and deterministic, and lead to inadequate and distorted findings. Alexander (1989) goes so far as to suggest that "the positivist impetus has severely narrowed the range of empirical analysis, . . . technicalized social science and driven it toward false precision and trivial correlational studies" (p. 632). While some of these criticisms do not seem to apply to time use studies, which are certainly contextual and temporal, traditional time use surveys have some drawbacks. If research is bounded within the confines of quantitative approaches, it is problematic to study the immense variation and "meaning" of individual's use of time from both a biological and sociocultural perspective in a way that fits with "scientific objectivity." Within studies that use a diary or daily questionnaire, for example, it is difficult to obtain in-depth information about the personal value of experiences, about " why" people use time in any specific way, about particulars of their sociocultural background, or about the social or biological values and pressures that impact upon individual or community choice. Even researchers who use the "experience sampling method" to gather data can only expect subject compliance if the selfreport sheets they complete, when beeped at random times throughout the study period, are short and undemanding. In line with the ideas held by the critics of traditional research design, the latter half of the 20th century has seen a growth of behavioral theories dominated by sociological postulates that human actions are determined by sociocultural environments. Such theories have led to the development of many qualitative tools for behavioral research that are gaining respectability in the scientific community. This growing interest in qualitative



methods is exciting because it sheds different lights on the issues under study, as well as stimulates interest in more holistic approaches. Qualitative approaches include interpretive and critical research methods that have the potential to extend traditional views of " truth" to include multiple realities, values, and meanings. " Truths" in qualitative approaches are seen to be those of the people "researched" rather than the researcher, and efforts are made to check and validate whether what is recorded and analyzed is, in fact, true from the participant’s point of view. Such research methods can " produce meaningful descriptions and interpretations of social processes," "offer explanations of how certain conditions came into existence and persist," and provide " the basis for realistic proposals" for improving social environments (Denzin, 1989, p. 23; Becker & Horowitz, 1986). To use this type of approach, the researcher needs to be both flexible and critically self-reflective. The researcher’s skill is not only in setting up the research, and making sure of its rigor, but also in facilitating and acknowledging that the research process is interactive. Within a qualitative paradigm, there are many ways of collecting usable data according to the research problem, such as interviews and storytelling, observing and documenting conversations, groups, interactions and activities, and searching out and reviewing written documentation and records, even if the research endeavor is of a "critical" nature. Critical research, "recognizes that social scientists are participants in the socio-historical development of human action and understanding" (Comstock, 1982, p. 377). It often uses similar approaches to interpretive research and is aimed at enlightening participants about equity and hegemony issues, about consciousness raising, and about facilitating social change (McCutcheon & Jung, 1990). It seems relevant, and indeed important, to take a critical approach in time use research, as people have little awareness that what they "do" is so shaped by their environment that it may not lead to health or well-being. Fay (1987) suggests that "critical social science assumes that humans are active creatures," and in the tradition of Marx, that through their activity they shape their "natural and social environments." Because people are largely unaware of themselves or their cultures as "the 'objects' they have created," their activity "is carried out in a disorganised and often self defeating way" (p. 47). If time use methods are included in critical approaches, such as in critical praxis research or critical ethnography, useful data for analysis will be available. For example, Comstock (1982) suggests that critical praxis research includes " repeated movement" through several phases—the interpretive, the empirical-analytical, the critical–dialectical, and the practical educational and political action phases—in its progress toward increased under-



standing and social action. In time use studies, during the interpretive phase, a variety of qualitative approaches could be used to gain an understanding of the meanings and values ascribed by participants to particular ways they use time; in the empirical phase, data could be collected about their participants' daily experiences and the social environment in which they take place through time-use diaries or experience sampling; these are critically analyzed with respect to social and economic hindrances to true equality in the dialectic phase; analysis is shared with participants in the education phase; and participants are encouraged to reflect and act to improve conditions in the political action phase. Even if not formally engaged in critical research of the type that encourages political action from the "ground up," critical review of time use studies and wide-ranging literature can lead to temporal data being combined to better inform social and political action. For example, human geographers, Barrett and Browne (1993), based their critical review about the workloads of rural African women on such data collected by themselves and others (Carr, 1991; Mair, 1984; Mwaka, 1993; Young, 1984). They are able to argue convincingly that following economic adjustment, policies that have been implemented in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, " the already heavy workloads of women have increased further," and that "economists and planners must devise more gender sensitive policies, as women are reaching breaking point" (p. 10).

INTEGRATING RESEARCH APPROACHES Quantitative time use studies can provide even more useful information for social, political, and health planners than they do already if integrated with qualitative or critical data garnered from other types of research that increase detail and depth. Integration of interpretive methodologies with time use studies that seek to gather information about "what" people do can add valuable understanding as to " why" people use time the way they do, and provide clues about better ways to structure societies to enable their more healthful "doing." Indeed, researchers such as TrippReimer (1985) suggest that qualitative and quantitative methodologies "may provide complementary data sets which together give a more complete picture than can be obtained using either method singly" (p. 179); in a similar vein, De Landsheere (1988) proposes that researchers should consider "not either-or but both ... combining methods of approaches that some would earlier have considered to be incompatible" (p. 10); and Silverman (1985) argues that " it is not simply a choice between polar



opposites that faces us, but a decision about balance and intellectual breadth and rigour" (p. 17). Indeed, postmodernists distrust any method of research as being able to provide "the 'right' or the privileged form of authoritative knowledge"; instead, they open " those standard methods to inquiry and introduce(s) new methods which are also, then, subject to critique" (Richardson, 1994, pp. 517–518). The combining of old and new will lead to new ways of knowing and different perspectives of what is known. This view opens up exciting and challenging possibilities to time use researchers. By combining time use studies with other approaches, it is possible for the research to be exploratory, descriptive, or explanatory, and for analysis to be empirical, interpretive, or critical, as appropriate. Comprehensive time use studies, used in combination with other qualitative approaches, are one way to begin to gain a clearer understanding of the underlying factors that prompt people to do the things they do, day by day, often or occasionally, why different social groups and cultures use time differently, and whether current sociocultural structures and institutions are based on values that will enable humans to continue evolving in directions that are appropriate and necessary to the ecology and our species' survival and well-being. In line with this kind of understanding, the nature of interpretive and critical approaches prompts researchers to ask the fundamental ethical question about who will gain from the research, and to try to ensure that the researched will be recipients of any "good" arising from the study. Particularly in terms of including both biological and sociocultural aspects of human temporality in research approaches, it is almost a necessity to use a mixed approach. Diaries, questionnaires, field observation, or experience sampling may be a most effective ways to gain a picture of daily activities and lifestyles. However, to understand how these are influenced by, or influential upon, biological temporal mechanisms or social structures, techniques such as in-depth interviewing and history of ideas are useful. There are several ways in which approaches can be integrated. • Different methods focusing on the issue under study can be used in combination. For example, a time use diary, an in-depth interview, and " field" observations can be used to investigate time use during recovery from stroke, what meaning the experience had for the subject, and whether there are any generalizable laws from data across subjects. This multimethod design is referred to as " triangulation," a term first used in research by Campbell (1956) in his study of leadership in the United States Navy, to refer to multiple



collection methods that converge on a single construct. Used in this confirmationary way Webb, Campbell, Schwartz, & Sechrest (1965) suggest that " when a hypothesis can survive the confrontation of a series of complementary methods of testing, it contains a degree of validity unattainable by one tested within the more constricted framework of a single method" (p. 174). Triangulation can also be used for "completeness" in that multiple methods can reveal the varied directions of the research endeavor and illuminate the context of phenomena more fully (Breitmayer, Ayres, & Knafl, 1993; Fielding & Fielding, 1986; Jick, 1983). A two-stage process can be used, in which quantitative data can be collected and then, following analysis, supplemented by focus group discussions or in-depth interviews. For example, data from time use diaries of individuals on " holiday" and at " work" can be analyzed prior to focus group discussions that search for common meanings and values associated with chosen activities while away from, and in contrast to, normal routines and obligatory activities. A two-stage process that collects qualitative data to inform the development of a time use survey can be a another useful way to combine approaches. For example, discussion, "narrative"or "storytelling" approaches with people whose job involves shift work can be used prior to developing a time use survey that seeks to measure any problems that result from adaptations to biological temporal rhythms. This process can provide justification for the design, focus the survey, so that it addresses issues with real meaning to the participants, and provide critical information to employers and governments. A multistage process can involve the possibilities outlined here, with the addition of checking and validating preliminary analyses and conclusions with the participants, and using their interpretations in the final results, or using the additional information in a new round of questions or surveys toward a final outcome. A time use survey or any number of interpretive methodologies can be used within a history of ideas.

DATA COLLECTION METHODS Several methods have been alluded to: field observation, in-depth interview, history of ideas, focus group discussion, and narrative or storytelling approaches. The first three of these are discussed further.



Field Observation From an anthropological perspective, field observations, particularly of societies and cultures different from that of the researchers, have been among the most often, and longest, used approaches in time use studies. They often involve the researcher living for long periods of time within the community being studied. Along with the observations of lived experiences, the researcher records, in detail, events as they occur, including the context, and the "standpoint of the observer" (Gross, 1984, p. 520). Other research tools are also used, such as surveys, census taking, analysis of archives and formal interviews, and sometimes "standardized test" batteries. The data from such studies are rich and varied, so of prime importance is the need to keep the recording of data up to date, as it is estimated that this will take up about one-third of the researcher's time (Boissevain, 1989, p. 273). Following return from the field, the often tedious task of transcribing, classifymg, and coding data takes place to prepare the data for presentation in a form that is accessible to whomever commissioned the work, to academic colleagues, and sometimes to the public. Because of the pressures for research to be seen as "scientific," and because modern technology offers time-saving advantages, over a period of some 70 years, techniques to code and analyze data sets have become increasingly sophisticated but remain a time-consuming exercise.

In-Depth Interviewing Many of the factors relating to field observation are also true of indepth interviewing, a qualitative approach that blends well with time use studies and is aimed at finding meaning from the informant's point of view. In common with fieldwork observation, the data collected by indepth interview are subjective rather than objective, are gathered in a natural setting as context forms part of reality, and use purposive rather than random sampling. Also in common is the need for researchers to acknowledge that they themselves are the principle research tool; that they will influence the responses and the data-gathering processes; that they come to the interview with interests, perceptions, values and biases; and that they will share a common experience with the participant in trying to gain a clear picture of the phenomenon under discussion. This acknowledgment, which is openly shared and recorded in study reports, takes the place of trying to set up a situation that is proposed as value-free. Interpretive researchers uphold the view that no research can be value-free, and within any phenomenological method, the process, the data gathered, and the analyses are interpreted in terms of the values they represent.



Although the subject of the interview is predetermined and starter questions are used to facilitate discussion, the interview process should be semistructured, flexible, and dynamic, rather than preconceived and planned. This is to enable people to reflect upon their own lived experience and to describe in depth their own subjective, multiple realities. Particularly if the interview takes place during the same period of time that informants are recording detailed aspects of their time use, self-reflection may prepare informants for the interview process, thus providing richness to the data collected. Thematic analysis across studies can be used to search for distinctions and similarities that can add quality and individual contexts to this other data. Minichiello, Aroni, Timerwell, and Alexander, in In-Depth Interviewing (1990), provide an excellent and practical guide to the process of interviewing, although there are no set rules. Establishing a rapport with informants is an important first step. They suggest several approaches:

• • • •

Talking to informants about the value of their potential contribution to the study, but providing only limited information about the research. This approach is useful if the researcher believes it important to reduce any bias. Discussing the nature of the study and the research process in some detail. This approach views informants as collaborators. Discussing the interview with informants before it takes place in order to set the scene, to establish an " interpersonal climate," and to deal with any practical issues relating to the process. Matching the style of questions to the informants' view of the world and adopting similar postural, language, and perceptual patterns during the interview (King, Novick, & Citrenbaum, 1983).

In-depth interviewing can follow various styles such as a conversational model, funneling model, storytelling, or solicited narratives. The conversational model is perhaps the most frequently used in interpretive research, as it recognizes that each informant has a unique contribution to make to the data set, so each interview will be different. It "relies on the natural flow of the conversation to direct it" (Minichiello et al., 1990, p. 113). Despite this, in order to keep the interview on track in terms of the study focus, it is useful for the researcher to have an interview guide to refer to as the interview progresses, but which can be "revised as informants provide information which has not previously been thought of by the researcher'' (p. 114). Funneling is a more structured method of interview. It directs the conversation from general issues of a nonthreatening nature toward and through the particular questions deemed important to the study, " which may be personally threatening or uncomfortable to



think about" (p. 117). Another method proposed by Askham (1982) is to ask questions, so that informants respond with a story. This enables them to provide rich and detailed descriptive information in their own way rather than in the question–answer mode, which can be limiting. However, stories may be distorted for effect and so well known to informants that they can be used to prevent analysis of material with deeper significance and meaning. Askham and others such as Taylor and Bogdan (1984) also utilize solicited narrative. In this method, informants provide a written account of experiences or life history, sometimes with the addition of personal documents, photographs, or other memorabilia, often prior to the interview. This is used as a basis for in-depth discussion or as additional material to help coding and analysis. In-depth interviews are usually taped and transcribed as soon after the interview as possible. Frequently informants are provided with a transcription to check that the information is accurate, or to enable them to modify or add further detail. The researcher reads and rereads the data, and, by this process of immersion, determines major themes of each informant and the sample as a whole. Line-by-line analysis allows coding of other categories that may emerge across informants or be unique to one or two. Informants may be shown the categorization and coding that ensues, so that whether the researcher has captured the meanings given by informants can be validated. Time use data collection, as one component of studies using qualitative approaches, as well as contributing measurable data of value, can be used as " triangulation" for validating findings. An example of a study that is in progress, and that combines a time use diary and in-depth interviewing to explore the occupational needs of preschool children is briefly described.

Study Example of Combined Time Use Diary and In-Depth Interview The study is based on the notion that children, through their many and varied occupations, explore, develop competence, and experience achievement and happiness. They learn many practical skills that will enable them to use time wisely, to interact with others, to choose future roles, in fact, to survive and develop according to their environment and cultural values. It is important for children to utilize all their particular and sometimes unique capacities if they are to flourish and experience a healthy life that encompasses physical, mental, and social well-being. Many children do not enjoy, or are not able to utilize, educational or social opportunities to develop to their potential, and, in fact, there are



concerns about increases in school absenteeism, illiteracy, and socially unacceptable behaviors. One of the reasons for this situation may be that the unique capacities inherent in each child are not be being tapped, so that the children are, in effect, occupationally deprived. Lack of understanding about the occupational needs of children may mean that even those seeking to provide the best care for the young may unintentionally deprive a child of occupational opportunity to meet his or her particular talents or attributes. The study is aimed at collecting information about the nature of early childhood engagement in occupation, the situations that facilitate or inhibit valued engagement, and the feelings experienced by the children, and analyzing these against a respected assessment battery for developmental level. The data of a preliminary study by Bowden (1995) was collected by the following methods:

• •

• •

Semistructured interviews with parents/caregivers, and preschool child workers. Semistructured interviews with preschool children, including observation sessions of the children in education/child-care settings. A special interview procedure for use with preschool children is being developed following a separate investigation exploring the most reliable and effective approaches. Administration of the Miller assessment for preschoolers (1988) to all participating children by occupational therapists. This is a statistically sound assessment that identifies preacademic problems experienced by children ages 5 and under. Use of the parent-centered time diary. Parents will also be asked to complete a 24-hour, 10-minute interval time use diary about their child’s engagement in occupation. The day will be assigned randomly. The diary is based on the survey instrument used in the recent Australian Bureau of Statistics’ How Australians Use Their Time (Castle, 1992; Wilson, 1987).

Research rigor in in-depth interviewing is established through methods such as triangulation—the combination of different techniques to collect data in the study of the same phenomenon, and also by collecting data by in-depth interview about the same phenomena from different sources. Internal validity and reliability methods use examination and clarification of researcher bias, recorded in the report, training of research assistants in in-depth interview methodology., tape recording of the transcripts, multiple data analysis, and separate data analysts.



History of Ideas Critical text analysis is an important research methodology. One such approach is known as " history of ideas." Although a literature review, which is a modified history of ideas, forms an integral part of most research studies, a history of ideas approach is seldom recognized as an important research approach in its own right. It is a technique that recognizes that many minds have pondered and researched important questions relating to humanness over thousands of years, and that reviewing these ideas from new perspectives may provide unexpected meanings and notions to assist in improving real-life experiences for people today. Arthur Lovejoy (1936,1983) first advanced the term " history of ideas" in the 1920s. It is a research approach that centers on concepts and how changes in their meaning and associations alter according to history. He proposed that the task of the history of ideas is to assist with the following:

• • • •

Interpretating, unifying, and correlating things that often appear unconnected. Understanding how new theories and intellectual customs are introduced and dispersed in any culture or society. Describing the processes by which the influence of ideas and customs occur. Clarifying how even dominant conceptions change from one generation to another.

Lovejoy described, as a major part of this research method, the viewing of ideas from a particular perspective made possible by considering and dividing substantially similar material to other historians of the history of thought, so that different associations and classifications emerge. He argued for the history to be concerned with concepts that are common and cross cultural boundaries as well as barriers between different disciplines and ways of thinking, so demonstrating that ideas that emerge at any one time usually manifest themselves in more than one direction. Histories of ideas carry a risk because it is necessary for the historian "to gather material from several fields of knowledge" and so " in at least some parts of his [sic] synthesis, (is) liable to the errors which lie in wait for the non-specialist" (Lovejoy, 1948, p. 195). As ideas and values are so influential in how people use time, this approach helps to contextualize a study, to validate interpretations, to develop theory, and has the potential to offer depth and meaning to data collected in conventional diary, time survey, or by experience sampling. A history of ideas approach about human temporality in general, or about a



particular view on an aspect of time use, can consider data from many sources and points of view. It must clarify the sociocultural and temporal context, and source of the ideas it considers, and discuss their similarities and differences, as well as pursuing theoretical reflection in relation to the unique or particular view being proposed, correlating and unifying previously unassociated interpretations. A history of ideas approach can be an effective tool as part of interpretive and critical research, and in more radical deconstructive or poststructural research. As a research method to develop theory, it can offer many similar advantages to grounded research, which has gained increased recognition in recent years since Glaser and Strauss’s book The Discovery of Grounded Theo ry: Strategies for Qualitative Research was published in 1967. Different researchers have suggested several stages of analysis in grounded theory, which include category development and saturation, formulating abstract definitions, and using definitions and categories by linking, testing, and connecting them with existing theory (Field & Morse, 1985, pp. 109–113); memoing, sorting, and coding memos to produce an outline, and discovering overriding analytic schemes (Wilson, 1985, pp. 415–422). All of these stages can, and should, be applied in a history of ideas approach. For example, the researcher, in gaining understanding from immersion and saturation in relevant but broad-ranging literature, can attempt to discover how others have seen the dominant processes in a sociocultural environment that has led to particular time use behaviors and, following reflection, can generate hypotheses that can be generalized. Analysis occurs as critical reading and reflection trigger understanding of the data. The "Aha!" experience is common, as saturation of information fosters neural integration, and the value of using memos to capture such ideas as they occur cannot be overstated. Hypotheses, structure, definitions, categories, and variables become evident as the research progresses, so that outlining the direction of the study is a dynamic and changing process. There are many possible purposes of time use research. History of idea approaches may group and relate already " known" thoughts and facts in a different way, contending, for example, that the meaning of purposeful use of time has changed along with occupational technology and subsequent sociocultural evolution, ideas, and expectations. Material from other disciplines and cultures, and from ideas and artifacts of " the people" as well as known "experts," can be viewed according to the time use issue under study. In my own long-term study of the relationship between people’s engagement in occupations and their health status, I use a history of ideas approach (Wilcock, 1998). From proposing quite early in the piece that humans have always used time in a purposeful way, I realized that I had to



discover if, in fact, this was true. This led to a voyage of discovery through evolutionary texts to anthropology, sociology and philosophy, to ethology, sociobiology, genetics, labor studies, psychology, ecology, and neural Darwinism. I ploughed backward and forward through these, as well as texts from other disciplines, as issues emerged and connections were made. Ideas disregarded at one stage became important at a later stage. "Ahas!" were many, and memos were innumerable. As immersion led to saturation, themes and, eventually, hypotheses developed. In fact, as time passed and truths dawned, I found that when these truths were subjected to reflection and analysis, often they were similar to earlier truths, but with more depth and greater certainty of their rightness. From the foundation laid down by this theory generation, it is now possible to launch innumerable studies using time use methods in conjunction with other qualitative tools, to test, or further explore the " truths," hypotheses, and theories. But the history of ideas process was more than a launching pad. It set the scene for research that has the depth and potential to provide more than information for its own sake. It facilitated a "critical" viewpoint, because it enabled me to look at the world through a different lens, and generated in me the need to concentrate on time use research that could lead to political and social change, to improve the human experience, health, and wellbeing, along with sustaining the ecology. Many historians of ideas are masters at providing other academics, or the population at large, with important issues for their consideration in fascinating but accessible accounts that integrate concepts, theories, and empirical research. Stephen Toulmin, for example, who is a highly respected historian of ideas, set the scene for critical time use studies in his paper "Occupation, Employment and Human Welfare" (1995). Jacob Bronowski (1973) provided another example when he captured the essence of how humans have used time throughout evolution, according to their particular jigsaw of characteristics and capacities. And Jeremy Campbell (1986), in drawing together ideas from a wide range of sources, in telling the complex story of human temporality, has his work described in the New Scientist as accessible, intriguing, illuminating, indispensable, intelligible, and dense with allusion. In terms of integrating histories of ideas with time use data, Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi's books and articles are excellent examples. These extend and put into context his time use studies based on interviews, questionnaires, diaries, and experience sampling methodologes, and together, they support his theory of "flow." He describes flow as an altered experience of time, which commonly occurs as people engage in activities in which they enjoy and remember, and when "challenges are high and personal skills are used to the utmost" (Csikszentmihalyi, 1993, p. 39). Csikszentmihalyi advocates that the scientific study of time use is in its



infancy, that most of the work lies ahead of us, but that it is essential work if we are to understand and facilitate social structures to enable life satisfaction, particularly in view of the breathtaking changes to human occupation that are occurring in today's world.

SUMMARY In summary, this chapter has highlighted the need to be holistic in time use research, because the " temporal human" is so in response to multilevel influences of temporal factors, from biological rhythms that underlie activity, to time constructs imposed by political economies. For time use studies to be most useful in advising social, health, and political planning, they need to have depth and be contextualized and critical. Probably the most useful studies will be those that combine methodologies that bring different dimensions to the study of how and why people use time. The examples provided demonstrate how detailed time use diary or experience sampling data, supplemented by the rich information gleaned from in-depth interviews, could be integrated into a history of ideas that provides material about dimensions of human temporality. They also show how together such data can validate findings to inform in a holistic way and to provide a base for critical action.

REFERENCES Alexander, J. C. (1989). Positivism. In A. Kuper & J. Kuper (Eds.), The social science encyclopedia (pp. 631–633). Rev. ed., London & New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul. Askham, J. (1982). Telling stories, Sociological Review, 30, 555–573. Barrett, H. R., & Browne, A. (1993). Workloads of rural African women: The impact of economic adjustment in sub-Saharan Africa, Journal of Occupational Science: Australia, 1(2), 3–11. Becker, H. S., & Horowitz, I. L. (1986). Radical politics and sociological observation: Observations on methodology and ideology. In H. S. Becker (Ed.), Doing things together: Selected papers. (pp. 83–102). Evanston, IL: Northwestern University Press. Boissevain, J. (1989). Ethnographic fieldwork. In A. Kuper & J. Kuper (Eds.), The social science encyclopedia (pp. 272–274). Rev. ed., London & New York Routledge & Kegan Paul. Bowden, S. (1995). Development of a research tool to enable children to describe their engagement in occupation. Journal of Occupational Science: Australia, 2(3), 115–123. Breitmayer, B. J., Ayres, L., & Knafl, K. A. (1993). Triangulation in qualitative research: Evaluation of completeness and confirmation purposes. Image: Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 25, 237–243. Bronowski, J. (1973). The ascent of man. British Broadcasting Corporation. Burke, P. (1988). History of ideas. In A. Bullock, 0. Stalleybrass, & S. Trombley (Eds.), The Fontana dictionary of modern thought (p. 338). London: Fontana Press.



Campbell, D. T. (1956). Leadership and its effects upon the group. Columbus: Ohio State University Press. Campbell, J. (1986). Wins ton Churchill’s afternoon nap. London: Palladin Grafton. Carr, M. (1991). Women and food security. London: IT Publications. Castles, I. (1992). How Australians use their time, Catalogue No 4153.0. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics. (embargoed to 1994) Comstock, D. (1982). A method for critical research. In E. Bredo & W. Feinberg (Eds.), Knowledgeand values in social and educational research (pp. 370–390). Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Connele, H., Smith, B., & Wiseman, R. (1995). Study guide: Issues and methods in research. University of South Australia, Adelaide, Distance Education Centre. Cowley, G. (1995, March 28). It’s time to rethink nature and nurture. Bulletin (Sydney), pp. 80–81. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1993). Activity and happiness: Toward a science of occupation. Journal of Occupational Science: Australia, 1, 38–42. De Landsheere, G. (1988). History of educational research. In J. P. Keeves, (Ed.). Educational research, methodology and measurement (p. 10). Oxford: Pergamon Press. Denzin, N. K. (1989). Interpretive interactionism: Applied social research methods series, Vol. 16. Newbury Park, CA: Sage. Fay, B. (1987). Critical social science: Liberation and is limits. Ithaca, NY Cornell University Press. Field, P., & Morse, J. (1985). Nursingresearch: The application of qualitative approaches. Rockville, MD: Aspen. Fielding, N., & Fielding, J. (1986). Linking data. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. Fraser, J. T. (1992). Human temporality in a nowless universe. Time and society, 1(2), 159–173. Gergen, K. (1982). Towards transformation in social knowledge. New York: Springer-Verlag. Glaser, K., & Strauss, A. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory: Strategies for qualitative research. New York Aldine. Gross, D. (1984). Time allocation: A tool for the study of cultural behaviors. Annual Review of Anthropology, 13, 519–558. Jick, T. (1983). Mixing qualitative and quantitative methods: Triangulation in action. In J. Van Maanen (Ed.), Qualitative methodology (pp. 135–148). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage. King, M., Novik, L., & Citrenbaum, C. (1983). Irresistible communication: Creative kills for the health professional. Philadelphia: Saunders. Kolb, B., & Whishaw, I. Q. (1990). Fundamentals of human neuropsychology (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Freeman. Lorenz, K. (1974). Civilized man‘s eight deadly sins (M. Latzke, Trans.). London: Methuen. Lovejoy, A. 0. (1948). Essays in the history of ideas. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Lovejoy, A. 0. (1983). The study of the history of ideas. In P. King (Ed.), The history of ideas (pp. 179–194). London & Canberra: Croom Helm. (Original work published 1936) Luckmann, T. (1991). The constitution of human life in time. In J. Bender & D. Wellbery (Eds.), Chronotypes. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. McCutcheon, G., & Jung, B. (1990). Alternative perspectives on action research. Theory Into Practice,29,144–150. Miller, L .J. (1988). Miller assessment for preschoolers. San Antonio, TX: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. Minichiello, V., Aroni, R., Timerwell, E., & Alexander, L. (1990). In-depth interviewing. Melbourne: Longman Cheshire. Mwaka, V. M. (1993). Agricultural production and women’s time budgets in Uganda. In J. H. Momsen & J. H. Kinnaird (Eds.), Different places, different voices: Gender and development in Africa, Asia and Latin America. London: Routledge.



Ornstein, R., & Sobel, D. (1988). The healing brain: A radical new approach to health care. London: Macmillan. Quinton, A. (1988). Positivism. In A. Bullock, 0. Stalleybrass, & S. Trombley (Eds.), The Fontana dictionary of modern thought (p. 669). 2nd ed. London: Fontana Press. Richardson, L. (1994). Writing: A method of inquiry. In N. Denzin, & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (pp. 516–529). London: Sage. Silverman, D. (1985). Qualitative methodology and sociology. Brookfield, VT. Gower. Snell, G. D. (1988). Search for a rational ethic. New York: Springer-Verlag. Taylor, S. J., & Bogdan, R. (1984). Introduction to qualitative research methods: The search for meanings (2nd ed.). New York: Wiley. Toulmin, S. (1995). Occupation, employment and human welfare. Journal of Occupational Science: Australia, 2, 48–58. Tripp-Reimer, T. (1985). Combining qualitative and quantitative methodologies. In M. Leininger (Ed.), Qualitative research methods in nursing (p. 179). Orlando, FL Grune & Stratton. van den Berghe, P. L. (1989). Sociobiology. In A. Kuper & J. Kuper (Eds.), The social science encyclopedia (pp. 795–798). Rev. ed., London & New York Routledge & Kegan Paul. von Bertalanffy, L. (1968). General systems theory. New York Braziller. Webb, E., Campbell, D. T., Schwartz, R. D., & Sechrest, L. (1965). Unobtrusive measures: Nonreactive research in the social sciences. Chicago: Rand McNally. Wilcock, A. A. (1993). A theory of the human need for occupation. Journal of Occupational Science: Australia, 1, 17–24. Wilcock, A. A. (1998). An occupational perspective of health, Thorofare, NJ: Slack Inc. Wilson, E. (1978). On human nature. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Wilson, H. S. (1985). Research in nursing. Menlo Park, CA: Addison-Wesley. Wilson, J. (1987, May–June). Information paper: Time use pilot survey, Sydney, Catalogue No. 4111.1. Canberra: Australian Bureau of Statistics. Yerxa, E. J., Clark, F., Frank, G., Jackson, J., Parham, D., Pierce, D., Stein, C., & Zemke, R. (1989). An introduction to occupational science: A foundation for occupational therapy in the 21st century. Occupational Therapy in Health Care, 6,1–17. Yerxa, E. J. (1990). A mind is a precious thing. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 37, 170–171. Young, K. (1984). Planning development with women. London: Macdan.

Cap 9  

C. CULTURE Ann Wilcock South Australia 5000. Time Use Research in the Social Sciences, edited by Wendy E. Pentland, Andrew S. Harvey, M. Pow...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you