What is family time and what value do we place on it? How many families today have time to be families? How do families view, use, and seek to control time, and how successful are they at it? Caught between a public world speeding along on information superhighways and their own private desire to preserve the family as a rest stop, family members look for new and efficient ways to protect, control, and manage their time. The concept of time is central to the study of families and is used in several different ways: families have changed through history, families experience the passage of time as they age over the life course, and families negotiate time for being together. Families & Time is the first to synthesize these differing concepts of time into a broad theory of how families understand time. In this important volume, Kerry J. Daly examines time as a pervasive influence in the changing experimental world of families. The book opens with a discussion of the various ways time can be conceptualized, in general, followed by an examination of how families have experienced time throughout history. Subsequent chapters examine the social construction of time in families; as well as such specific topics as time and technology in the home; controlling time; and the societal, gender, and intergenerational politics of family time. Though at its heart a theoretical book, Families & Time consciously focuses on the practical aspects of this theory in understanding the power in the family, the family life cycle, and work/family conflicts. Scholars interested in the development of theory of the family, examining gender and work issues, and exploring various perspectives on time will find this book indispensable. “In this compelling portrayal of the patterns and politics of family time, author Kerry J. Daly has produced a masterpiece. Destined to become a classic, Families & Time will alert scholars across disciplines to the breadth and depth of interdisciplinary family studies. Accessible to everyone, Families & Time can be read for knowledge and pleasure, as a new contribution to family theory construction, a mediation on the pervasiveness and value of time in family experience, and a wellspring of creative ideas for families who want to gain control over their perceived loss of time in an accelerated society. Scrupulously documented in a writing style that combines metaphor, narrative, and empirical findings, Daly succeeds in offering a new consciousness and theory of family time. I will read and recommend this book to others over and over again.” --Katherine R. Allen, Ph.D., Family and Child Development, Virginia Tech
Chapter 5: Controlling Family Time
Controlling Family Time
The idea that family time can be controlled rests on the assumption that, like productive time, family time is broken down into a set of quantifiable, objectified units that can be socially controlled. Whereas industrialization separated work time and free time, in our postmodern culture, time has been fragmented into many domains that are shaped by the forces of globalization, consumerism, the mass media, and the daily dispersion of individual family members into their own routines. Nevertheless, clocks and schedules objectify all aspects of time, and as a result, time is subject to control through relations of power.
At the most fundamental level, individuals seek to gain some level of control over their daily experience of time and their own passage ...