TEMPORALITY OF THE SOCIAL STRUCTURE:
A MODEL OF THE MICRO-MACRO LINK
B.A., University of Colorado at Denver, 1998
A thesis submitted to the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Master of Arts
2000 by Akihiko Hirose
All rights reserved.
This thesis for the Master of Arts
has been approved
>57 / jZjfrinr"
Akihiko Hirose (M.A., Sociology)
Temporality of the Social Structure: A Model of the Micro-Macro Link
Thesis directed by Associate Professor Candan Duran-Aydintug
The theoretical utility of concept of time is explored in the application of temporality to the
micro and macro distinction. First, I provide a selected review of the treatment of time in
sociological theory. Second, I examine two unsatisfactory approaches which treat time as a
mere conceptual measurement, and equate time with historical continuity as the main form
of temporality. Third, I suggest a conceptual addition to the issue of the micro-macro
distinction. An approach of an analytical distinction of the micro and macro which does not
require a reference to empirically specific levels is suggested. Fourth, three types of
temporality-instrumental, historical, and normative-are identified. The interactions among
the three temporalities form the process of temporal differentiation. The temporalization of
the micro-macro link shows that the relationship between macro-temporality and micro-
temporality is asymmetrically coordinated by temporal differentiation. Finally, the temporal
structures with various combinations of temporalities are examined in terms of the degree of
negotiability specified by the temporal differentiation.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's thesis. I recommend its
I dedicate this thesis to Laura for her incredible support, patience, and understanding. It was
impossible to come this far without her. Additionally, this thesis is for my parents for
supporting what I decided to do in the last five years.
I cannot thank my adviser Dr. Candan Duran-Aydintug enough for giving me such
tremendous opportunities and encouragement throughout my academic career at the
University Colorado at Denver. I also want to thank the Department of Sociology for the
support it gave me for my research, Dr. Kjell Tomblom for his valuable comments, and Dr.
Mitchell Aboulafia for his help and feedback. Finally, I would like to thank Dr. Milton Kleg
for the many things I have learned from him.
2. TIME IN SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY...............................4
Social Time: Durkheim.................................4
Action Time and System Time: Parsons and Luhmann......5
The Past: G. H. Mead..................................8
3. TEMPORALITY AND THE MICRO-MACRO LINK.....................11
The Micro-Macro Link.................................12
Temporality in the Empirical Micro-Macro Distinction.16
Temporality in Structuration Theory: Agency and Structure.18
The Analytical Micro-Macro Distinction...............21
4. TEMPORALIZATION OF THE MICRO-MACRO LINK..................29
The Types of Micro-Macro Temporality.................29
Temporalization of The Micro-Macro Link..............39
Constraining, Referencing, and Negotiation.....40
3.1 Types of the Micro Macro Distinction..........................15
3.2 The Relationship between Micro-Macro Temporality..............24
3.3 The Basic Relations of Micro-Macro Temporalities..............26
3.4 The Ranges of Temporal Relationship...........................27
4.1 Instrumental Temporality in Collins...........................31
4.2 The Range of Three Temporalities..............................37
4.3 The Variation in the Range of Temporalities...................37
4.4 The Ranges of Temporal Structures.............................40
4.5 A Model of Temporal Differentiation...........................44
4.1 Types of Temporality.........................................33
4.2 Temporal Orientation.........................................38
4.3 The Temporal Orientation of Temporal Configurations.........39
Time has been viewed as one of the most neglected topics in sociological discourse
(Maines, 1987; Luhmann, 1978; Hassard, 1990; Lauer, 1981; Martins, 1974; Aminzade, 1992).
Even though this view has been widely acknowledged, by witnessing recent developments
in the inquiry into the area of time in sociology, one has to admit that there is now an
undeniable growing interest in the subject matter (Nowtony, 1992; Bergmann, 1992; Adam,
1995; Lash, Quick, and Roberts, 1998; Flaherty, 1999). There has been a substantial amount of
empirical research dealing with the issue of time. Many sub-fields of sociology have also
begun to incorporate time as one of their main concerns1. Likewise, the theoretical
community within the discipline of sociology has shown some indications of this interest by
recognizing the significance and utility of time. The growing interest in time as a topic of
sociological inquiry is certainly a beneficial development for both the methodological and
theoretical maturation of the discipline (Adam, 1990; Giddens, 1984,1987). However, the
rapid increase of research into time has also produced many disagreements and much
confusion in terms of time's ontological and epistemological status, its conceptualization,
and its relationship to other theoretical and methodological variables. The contemporary
situation regarding time in sociology is rather seen as a "maze of conceptual chaos"(Adam,
1990:15), displaying a disorganized picture of conceptual developments. One of the reasons
for this situation might be the lack of a clear conceptualization of time in sociology. Norbert
Elias (1992), therefore, argues that sociology needs a theory of the concepts of time. At
present, sociology does not have an overall consensus on what time is, how time should be
treated, and what theoretical and methodological status time should acquire.2 Many
concepts regarding time are being continually developed, including both empirically
generated ones and those based on analytical schemes. There have been attempts to
systematically organize and categorize the various approaches and concepts (e.g., Couch,
1982; Sirianni, 1987); however, a cumulative abstraction of the empirical and theoretical
findings has not been sufficiently produced. In particular, the theoretical appropriation of
time, as it relates to other sociological phenomena, has not been put forth with any
convincing success. Notwithstanding that the importance of time in sociological theory has
been emphasized elsewhere (e.g., Adam, 1990; Giddens, 1984; Maines, 1987), the actual use
of time in the course of theorizing remains fairly inconspicuous. Despite the numerous
empirical and conceptual identifications of different types of time and temporality, the only
prominent forms of temporality in general theoretical activities are time as a measurement
or time as historical continuity. While many of the empirical and conceptual studies allude
to the significant social embeddedness of temporality and its potential influence on social
structure and processes (e.g., Adam, 1995; Couch, 1984; Lauer, 1981; Levine, 1997; Moore,
1963), many theorists have not incorporated such characteristics of time into their theorizing
by formulating a general scheme of the temporal structure, and leaving the "conceptual
chaos" behind them.3 Thus, the problem here is not so much a negligence of research on
time. Rather, the interrelation of time to more "popular" sociological concepts has not been
explored, so that the true relevance of the significance of time has not been acknowledged
within general sociology.
In this thesis, I will attempt to formulate a general scheme of the relationship
between temporality and social structure by constructing a model of the temporal structure.
That is, by locating time within the social structure, the interrelationship between the
various types of temporality and the structural aspects of social reality will be explicated.
However, it is not my intention here to review all the substantive evidence of temporality
gathered by sociologists nor to answer metaphysical questions regarding time and
temporality raised by philosophers. Rather, this thesis is meant to be a contribution to
sociological theory. Even though the substantive topic I choose to employ is temporality by
emphasizing its theoretical utility, my goal is an attempt to open the avenues for the
integration of the middle-range theories of temporality and general explanatory theory. This
is not to say, however, that the substantive evidence on time is unimportant. Rather, it will
be emphasized that an explanation of the structural process of temporality necessitates an
analytical approach. If there is enough substantial evidence suggesting the social nature of
time, the next step for the sociology of time is naturally to begin to demonstrate what has
been theoretically cumulated. For this reason, I shall provide a conceptualization of time that
is relevant to the explanatory picture of a temporalized social reality. In order to argue for
temporality's theoretical utility, I will incorporate one of the main contemporary theoretical
issues into the explanation. That is, the issue concerning the gap and/ or link between the
individual (i.e., the micro level, interaction, agency) and the whole (i.e., the macro level,
society, social structure, or social system) will be discussed in terms of its connection to
temporality. Even though the name of the issue sometimes varies as the micro-macro (e.g.,
Alexander, Giesen, Munch, and Smelser, 1987), or agency-structure (e.g., Sztompka, 1994),
the fundamental concern has remained, I argue, the same. The relationship between the
social reality of the individual level (interaction, actors, motivation, emotion, etc) and the
social phenomena of the social-structural level (norms, social structure, constraint, etc) has
been one of the underlining problems in sociological theory for a long time.4 By using the
issue, I will attempt to show not only the usefulness of temporality in explaining the
interrelationships of identifiable processes within the social structure, but also the problems
which arise in analytical (in) compatibility between the micro and macro levels. Macro
temporality's structural constraint makes the micro-macro an asymmetrical relationship. I
will argue that temporality must not be located external to social structure. Temporality is
rather the major constituent of social structure.
The basic structure of this thesis is as follows. In chapter 2,1 will selectively review
the major sociological literature concerning temporality. The review should provide a basis
for further discussion in this thesis.5 I will examine the concepts of social time suggested by
Durkheim (1915), its qualitative aspect further discussed by Sorokin and Merton (1937),
Parsons' conceptualization of action time (1937,1951), Luhmann's temporality in autopoiesis
approach (1995,1990,1982,1978), and the concepts of temporality offered by Mead (1938,
1932,1929). In chapter 3,1 will suggest an analytical distinction for the micro and macro
relationship. I will identify three types of approaches to the micro-macro distinction. Then,
theoretical approaches dealing with the micro-macro distinction and temporality are
examined. In chapter 4,1 will identify three types of temporality that constitute time in social
structure. They are 1) instrumental, 2) historical, and 3) normative temporality. Finally, I will
explain the process of temporal differentiation. The temporal differentiation produces
variations in the temporal structure. By examining the variations in the processes
constraining and negotiation, the interrelationships between micro and macro temporalities
TIME IN SOCIOLOGICAL THEORY
Social Time: Durkheim
The conception of time has been an enduring problem throughout intellectual
history, particularly in philosophical. Thinking.6 In the discipline of sociology, Emile
Durkheim, in The Elementary Forms of the Religious Life (1915), opened the avenue for later
sociological concerns regarding time. Although Durkheim's treatment was brief, it was
explicit and had an influential claim on the sociological conception of time (Adam, 1990;
Bergmann, 1992; Hassard, 1990; Katovich, 1987b; Pronovost, 1989).7 Durkheim offers a
conceptualization of social time as the product of a collective consciousness based on the
rhythm of social life. Social time as a social category of thought is organized as an obdurate,
external, social reality independent of individual perception. "It is not my time that is thus
arranged," Durkheim writes, "it is time in general, such as it is objectively thought of by
everybody in a single civilization" (Durkheim, 1915:23, emphasis in original). His concern
here is not of time that is subjectively experienced by an each particular individual, but of a
"category of time" that is a type of social representation and a "veritable social institution"
(1915: 23). According to Durkheim, social time is a collective form of cultural and social
artifacts that regulate the rhythm of the society. Thus, time is a product of society, not of
individuals. While acknowledging the existence of an individual time, Durkheim's concern
lies in social time which poses constraining characteristics on the macro level that function to
regulate society and remain independent of individual subjectivity. Durkheim's position
represents a view that advocates the recognition of a type of time which is social (i.e., not
psychological) in nature as the appropriate focus of sociologically inquiry. Social time is
distinctly separated from other forms of time such as time as a matter of subjective
experience or of nature.
The landmark study in social time by Pitrim A. Sorokin and Robert K. Merton (1937)
follows the same line of conceptualization on certain types of time. Sorokin and Merton
point out that most social scientists use time with no qualitative aspects, restricting it to a
single concept of Newtonian time which is absolute, homogeneous, mathematical, and
quantifiable. For Sorokin and Merton, such "mathematical time is 'empty'" (1937:623). They
argue that social events, rather than astronomical time, are used much more in the real
settings of the social world as reference points. Therefore, focusing on the qualitative nature
of social time is necessary in the study of society since "...social phenomena involves
'symbolic' rather than 'empirical' equalities and inequalities" (Sorokin and Merton, 1937:
628). By pointing out the cultural variations of time structure, they suggest that the systems
of time and time -reckoning are specific to the social structure and the social activities of the
group. By emphasizing the qualitative aspect of Durkheimian social time, the implicit
theoretical presupposition for them is that social time exists and it is affirmed as sociological
subject matter, which is an analytical departure from natural and innate psychological
conceptions of time. Sorokin (1964) refers to a time system specific to a group, or
"sociocultural time." Unlike mathematical, physical, and biological time, sociocultural time
is conceived of in reference to the other social phenomena. Sociocultural time, which is not
infinitely divisible, "does not flow evenly in the same group and in different societies"
(Sorokin, 1964:171). Sorokin and Merton argue that the continuity of natural time is often
disrupted by a social event that creates discontinuity and gives meaning to the social event.
Thus, the quantitative characteristics of "calendrical time itself becomes significant only
when it is transformed into social-time" (Sorokin and Merton, 1937:619). By using
qualitative social time, they assert that the time system of society is "providing means for
synchronizing and coordinating the activities and observations of the constituents of the
groups" (1937:627). The concept of social time offered by Durkheim is essentially
equivalent to the sociocultural time of Sorokin and the social time of Sorokin and Merton.
Cultural variations on the temporal structure emphasize social aspects of time which can be
contrasted with other forms of time such as psychological time, natural time, physical time,
astronomical time, and clock time.
Action Time and System Time: Parsons and Luhmann
In spite of the criticisms against functionalism which label it as being atemporal
(Giddens, 1979,1981b), Talcott Parsons did take notice of the significance of time (Parsons,
1937,1951). There are only brief remarks in his writings about time, compared to the rest of
his elaborated action and systems schemes. In them, however, he explains the essential
temporal characteristics of social action. Parsons maintains that "the phenomena of action
are inherently temporal" which "involve processes in time" (Parsons, 1937:45). On the
processual nature of social action and its relation to time, he also notes that "...action is not
only 'located' in time, it 'ranges' through time (Parsons, 1951:91). Parsons makes a
distinction between physical time and action time. Physical time in a nature system is a
space-time relation of events, which is the primary concern of the natural sciences. Action
time, on the other hand, involves a relationship between the means and ends of an action
which is one of the basic concepts of action theory. The temporal modes that Parsons assigns
to the nature system and action system are clearly differentiated from the culture system.
Parsons argues that while the nature and action systems involve processes in time, the
culture system, which consists of symbols and meanings, is atemporal because of its
inapplicability to empirical, external observation (1937). Here, Parsons identifies the
instrumental aspect of time as being a relevant form of temporality. Action time consists of
instrumental characters which are suitable for a linear sequence of unit acts. The schema of a
means-ends is oriented towards "a concrete anticipated future state of affairs" (1937:49). In
this case, time is linear, objective time which is required in the action schema processes to
accomplish a means-ends relationship. Therefore, for Parsons, action time as a process in
time is identical to the "process" in a linear causal relationship that is irrevocable. Aside
from the instrumental temporality of his action scheme, when explaining social systems,
Parsons inevitably adds that time is a form of social control which orders the complex
relationships of a social system. Thus, a relatively rigid time schedule is necessary for a
functional social system (Parsons, 1951). The normative and structural aspects of temporality
that make social control possible are necessitated by the systemic approach. What is missing
from his use of temporality is a historical aspect of temporality with contextual particularity.
This is precisely the point Anthony Giddens criticizes (1979,1981b). Apparently, what is
emphasized in Parsons' conception of time (instrumental) and in Giddens' conceptions of
time (historical) are obviously different forms of temporality. Time for Parsons is what
makes linear movement possible (i.e., sequential order, causality, etc). Parsons asserts that
"empirical science is concerned with processes in time" (1937:762).
As a leading systemic neofunctionalist, Niklas Luhmann emphasizes time as one of
the most fundamental concepts in his systems theory (Adam, 1990; Luhmann, 1978,1982,
1990; Elchardus, 1988). Unlike the approach taken by Parsons, Luhmann's theory includes
not only a structural systems viewpoint, but also an intersubjective aspect of the meaning of
temporality embedded in complex social systems. Luhmann is well aware of the
conventional treatment of time by sociologists: "Normally neither historians nor sociologists
ask about the nature of time" (1982:299). He argues that the conventional sociological
treatment of time as a presuppositional category cannot be used to explain the complexity of
social systems. Time, for Luhmann, exists in the interdependent relationship between
systems and their environments. That is, the preservation of systems requires time because
the systems "need" time to reduce the complexity for their own operation. Luhmann refers
to this process as the "temporalization of complexity" which varies depending on the level
of the complexity of the system (1978). Therefore, according to Luhmann, complex societies
tend to develop more abstract and differentiated concepts of temporality than do simpler
ones; the complexity of a system and its temporality are positively correlated. Luhmann's
basic argument is that a system produces and reproduces itself, including its elements, by
differentiating itself from the environment in order to adapt to its changing boundary. One
of the adaptation problems with the environment for a system is the temporal dimension. In
the course of self-adaptation, the system incorporates temporality into its process of
differentiation (or what he calls complexity). Thus, temporality is also created in the system
by the system; hence the temporalization of complexity by the system. The temporalization
of complexity is processed through the differentiation of a temporal dimension consisting of
the notions of past, present, and future. In this regard, Luhmann defines time as "the social
interpretation of reality with respect to the difference between past and future" (1982:274).
The distinction among temporal modalities (e.g., past, present, future) is one of the most
significant aspects in Luhmann's explanation of the functional differentiation of systems.
Similar to the distinction between physical time and action time made by Parsons,
Luhmann utilizes the concepts of structural time and sequential time to explain two
important functional relationships between system and environment and structure and
process (Luhmann, 1982). Structural time is produced from the differentiation between
system and environment. This is the time used by a system to coordinate its complex
differentiation and relation to the external environment. Structural time is objectified in
order to maintain a relatively fixed meaning for temporal reality which is a culturally shared
form of temporality and to assure temporal irreversibility (Luhmann, 1990). Sequential time
is a time that is conceivable as the process of means and ends. In other words, the process of
a means and end of an action is temporalized within a system along with movement and
change. Sequential time is derived from the relationship between the structure and process
of systems. Both structural time and sequential time, according to Luhmann, must be
intersubjectively synchronized to contribute to the reduction of the complexity of systems
and to ensure the interchangeability of perspectives of the experience (Luhmann, 1982,
1990). Time, in Luhmann's systems theory, is a function that is inseparable from the systems
since it emerges according to the "needs" of the systems. Because there are variations
among the structures and characteristics of systems, Luhmann argues that "there is no
concept of time that is universally valid and precise "(1982:300). However, he also points
out that world-time as a uniformly measured time system has emerged based upon the
needs of increasing complexity, interacting with systems in order to coordinate inter-
systems differentiation (1982). According to Luhmann, the world-time system, therefore,
reduces the complexity in the relationships between systems which consist of different
temporal dimensions and "allows processes in all systems to run simultaneously" (1982:
303). Luhmann repeatedly suggests that the existing theory of time needs to be refined to
transcend the given, taken-for-granted conception of time (1978,1982,1990). He argues that
the concept of temporality must be used not only for a sense of stability in the system, but
also for the maintenance (i.e., production and reproduction) and therefore, the existence of
the system. Luhmann's theoretical focus is on systems, not on society nor individual actors.
He holds that temporality that is used and produced by the social structure including actors
and collectivities is not a relevant unit of analysis. Even though Luhmann suggests that
sociologists locate temporality in the center of the theoretical investigation of modem
society, his explication of temporality is not applicable to a non-systemic approach.
The Past: G. H. Mead
George Herbert Mead (1929,1932,1938) proposed one of the most radical views of
time. Mead's ideas depart from the conventional view of time shared by sociologists who
treat time only as an objective reality, external to individuals. The fuller implications of
Mead's account on temporality, however, have been largely overlooked in sociology
(Maines, Sugure, and Katovich, 1983, Luhmann 1979). The most radical and most
misunderstood part of Mead's theory of time is his notion of past.
Mead rejects the philosophical dualism that separates the subjective experience from
the objective externality. The temporality of Mead, therefore, equally involves the aspects of
private and public, subjective and objective, and natural and social. At the same time, Mead
does not treat time as the mere subjective experience of actors. Nor, for Mead, is time
abstract or mathematical. Instead, "time, for Mead, is social time: social, political, cultural,
and economic not just a philosopher's time" (Strauss, 1991:413). Mead begins with the
proposition that reality is always in the present (Mead, 1929). This idea is fundamental
throughout his theory of temporality. It is necessary to examine the notion of the past
proposed by Mead in order to fully appreciate his provocative insight on time. For Mead,
the past is as hypothetical as the future. Even though the present implies the past and the
future, Mead states that "the past is an overflow of the present" (Mead, 1929: 238). He,
therefore, denies the existence of the past. He does not credit the same ontological status to
the past as to the present. Reality exists only in the present, not in the past or the future.
On the surface, however, it might seem that Mead is only suggesting the existence of
a symbolical, or "mythical" past that can be altered in the present (Maines et al, 1983). That
is to say, there is a past that is only open to the later interpretations as a meaningful past;
therefore, the past still remains real. Mead writes, "the past (or the meaningful structure of
the past) is as hypothetical as the future" (Mead, 1932:12). Often times, the "meaningful
structure of the past" is understood by many as the way that reality is located in the present
because the past can be re-interpreted or socially (re) constructed in the present. For
instance, Baert (1992) asserts that Mead meant the past only in the sense of the
representational and meaning of the past. Baert makes the distinction between the real past
and its representation: "Things can remain the same while their representation form or
meaning changes" (Baert, 1992: 76). If Baert's assertion is true, Mead's ideas seem rather
compromising, considering what Mead has to offer to the status of the past by denying its
existence. However, this is not what Mead had in his mind. The true meaning of the
"meaningful structure of the past" could only be understood if one can drop the assumed
temporal picture of the past, the present, and the future lined up neatly in linear horizons of
"timelines." For Mead, the locus of the reality is in the present. Here, temporality for Mead is
not pictured as a line, as four-dimensional space-time continuum chart, or as an unchanging
landscape waiting to be uncovered. Rather, "the landscape that stretches behind us becomes
a different landscape" (Mead, 1932:9-10). For Mead, the present is not a knife-edge moment
that is mathematically and categorically proceeding towards the future from the past on the
chart of space-time continuum. A present "is not a piece cut out anywhere from the
temporal dimension of uniformly passing reality" (Mead, 1932:23). The present consists of
the becoming and disappearing of events which are made possible by the novelty or the
emergence in the temporal passage. As a reference point, the present has a fringe that
stretches at both ends. Therefore, "the meaningful structure of the past" is the past for Mead.
That is to say, the past is not only to be symbolically reconstructed, modified, and
reinterpreted in the present, but also that which is reconstructed, modified, and
reinterpreted in the present is the past. Mead is not (even though it is very much applicable
in non-Meadian view of time) only talking about the historical and multicultural relativist
notion of the open-interpretation or new historical "findings." Rather, Mead is also, and
more significantly, arguing that there is no independent status for the reality of the past in
the passage of time. The past for which we must use a historical investigation in its inquiry
is the past. When we talk about the future, we do not indicate anything "real" in its
anticipation, but instead treat it hypothetically: what is anticipated is yet to be realized in the
present. For Mead, the past is not different from the anticipation of the future. Thus, that
which is indicated, interpreted, and modified in the past side of the fringe of the present is
the past. As Adam (1990) accurately explains: "The past 'in itself' is not a past at all; only its
relation to the present is the ground for its pastness" (Adam, 1990:39).
What is the utility of the Meadian conception of temporality to sociology? It is his
complete rejection of the dualism between external, objective temporality and the subjective
temporal experience. For Mead temporality is "out there," but at the same time, it is
experienced. This view is easily understood as having primacy in the subjectivist approach.
However, such an emphasis on the distinction between subjective experience and objective
reality is meaningless and misdirects Mead's intention8 Time is embedded in and forms a
significant part of experience.
TEMPORALITY AND THE MICRO-MACRO LINK
If not neglected, time as a subject matter in sociology certainly lacks a relevant
connection to other sociologically concerned phenomena. Especially within sociological
theorizing, time has not been used effectively by taking into account the optimum utility
that time provides for theoretical analysis. Although there have been various attempts to
conceptualize time on the empirical level, theoretical efforts that have actually incorporated
time as a constituent of social structural processes have been few.9 Nowotny accurately
notes that "time and social theory remained in an uneasy relationship" (1992:426). There is
ample documentation of empirical evidence on one hand, and the apparent failure of
cumulative theoretical synthesis on the other, to describe the situation surrounding the
study of time.10 Despite the growing interest in the exploration of time, much of sociological
theory remains atemporal. In other words, the sociology of time does not benefit from
sociological theorizing. The reasons for the atheoretical nature of sociology of time, I
suggest, partially originates in one of the problems that general sociological theorizing has
been facing. The problem concerning the distinction between the micro and macro levels as
well as the relationship between agency and structure has not allowed room for the
formulation of generalizations supported by empirical evidence into a type of theoretical
synthesis.11 Therefore, an examination of various approaches to the issue of the micro-
macro gap will explicate the atemporal tendency of sociological theorizing. By atemporality,
I mean that the treatment of time is either too implicit or temporality is not adequately
differentiated if it is discussed at all. Thus, the sociological use of time as a concept remains
extremely vague. Even if the term "time" is repeatedly mentioned in a particular theoretical
approach, it is difficult to assess what aspect of temporality is precisely the focus. In other
words, the concept of time is not analytically differentiated. It is not enough to be vocal
about the use of time or the significance of time in a sociological approach. As far as
temporality is concerned in the micro-macro distinction, time is conceived in the micro-
macro issue only as an external measurement of the scales and sizes of the events on a
specific level. Approaches with these shortcomings will also be examined. Randall Collins
proposes "the micro translation" or the micro foundations as the way to deal with the
issue of the micro-macro distinction (1981,1987,1988a, 1988b). Aside from his explicit
empirical bias of not treating the micro-macro in analytical way and ignoring the structural
emergence (Turner, 1988), Collins sees time only as one of the macro variables that can be
used for scaling and measuring purposes. Time is there, but treated as if it exists outside of
the social phenomena that Collins theorizes on. For Collins, time is not only external to
social events, but also to the social structure and processes that include the events. On the
other hand, Anthony Giddens, in his structuration theory, utilizes an approach that more
explicitly takes time seriously in his theory concerning the micro-macro/ agency-structure
issue.12 Giddens, therefore, is viewed as an important contemporary contributor in
emphasizing the significance of time.13 However, in Giddens' approach, a sociologist of
time can easily find an insufficient conceptualization of time. In his structuration theory
(1984), time is equated with historicity to claim the significance of time. Not only is the
nature of time not his concern, but also structuration remains atemporal since Giddens does
not actually incorporate time into the connection between agency and structure. Rather,
Giddens only explicates historical contextuality and continuity (Archer, 1985,1995; Adam,
1990; Elchardus, 1988; Nowotny, 1992). Before proceeding to examine the approaches taken
by Collins and Giddens, common approaches that distinguish between the micro and the
macro will be explored.
The Micro-Macro Link
The term the "micro-macro" is admittedly a recent sociological invention for the
issue regarding the relationship between the individual and the social whole or collectivity
(i.e., society, social structure, social systems)14. However, the issue represents one of the
enduring theoretical problems in sociological theory. The issue takes many different forms,
such as the micro-macro, agency-structure, and global-local, to name a few.15 The
disagreement on what exactly is the scope of the problems also confuses the debate. The
micro-macro distinction can be seen as either a theoretical distinction (micro or macro
theories) or an empirical level distinction (micro or macro levels) (Ritzer, 1990).16 The former
refers to a consideration of the relationship between level specific theories. The latter refers
to the identification of the two empirically recognizable levels. The existence of the two
distinct approaches also adds complexity to the situation: reductionism (micro versus macro)
and synthesis (micro-macro linkage). There is another approachanalytical distinction,
which does not assign any theoretical and/or empirically specific levels. The analytical
distinction between the micro and macro is purely abstract. Therefore, three general
approaches can be identified (see also Figure 3.1):
1. The empirical distinction: a distinction between the micro empirical level (e.g.,
individuals, social interaction, etc) and the macro empirical level (e.g., social structure,
a. Reductionism either of the levels is more empirically valid than the other
b. Synthesis the empirical events in the micro-macro levels need to be connected
2. The theoretical distinction: a distinction between micro theories (e.g., symbolic
interactionism) and macro theories (e.g., structural-functionalism).
a. Reductionism -either micro or macro theory has primacy over the other
b. Synthesis the micro and macro theories need to be combined
3. The analytical distinction: an abstract distinction concerned with the interrelationship
between the macro and micro in terms of their structuring processes.
When the micro-macro distinction is seen as a theoretical one, a reductionist approach tends
to argue for the primacy of a particular theory (e.g., micro) over another (e.g., macro)
theories (e.g., macro) (see Figure 3.1,2a). Admittedly, many theorists specialize on focusing
upon specific empirical level inquiry. They maintain that the specific level of empirical
reality has primacy over all others in their theoretical approaches. George C. Homans' (1964)
claim on psychological reductionism exemplifies the extreme cases of level specific
reductionism in favor of studying micro social phenomena. On the other hand, when the
distinction is seen as an empirical one, with the goal being synthesis, the main concern is to
link the social events of the empirical micro level with the events of the macro empirical
level (see Fig. 3.1, lb).17 Rather than reducing one level to another, the approach towards a
synthesis which aims for linkage or integration is now the most popularly accepted approach
to the issue of the micro-macro (Alexander et. al, 1987; Ritzer, 1990).18 However, when a
micro-macro synthesis is the goal, what exactly is to be synthesized becomes the problem. In
a reductionist approach, this question tends to be less of a concern since reductionism often
uses a claimed empirical primacy as its argument for the justification of theoretical
reductionism (e.g., Homans, 1964; Collins, 1988b). Yet, when synthesis is the aim in the
micro-macro distinction, the question of the focus of the linkage becomes the theoretical
dilemma. Especially, the methodological compatibility between the micro-macro theories (or
levels) remains unsolved in synthetic approaches (Schwinn, 1998). The micro is seen as being
a more empirically valid "level" by empiricists since the events which take place at that level
tend most likely to be observable, compared to those of the macro. However, macro level
phenomena involving emergent properties cannot be studied in the same way that the micro
level phenomena are studied if empirical verification means that the results must come from
observable phenomena. The "gap" between the micro and macro, therefore, remains if the
distinction is conceptualized in these four conventional ways. The gap occurs not only from
the incompatibilities between micro and macro theories, but also from the potential
epistemological inconsistency when dealing with both the micro and macro.
When time is incorporated into the distinction between the micro and macro, such
theoretical constraints limit how time is to be conceptualized into the theoretical view. An
examination of two approaches using time in the micro-macro distinction will show such a
limitation. The socially embedded nature of time cannot be fully explicated by an empirical
distinction or a theoretical distinction since temporality is not a single entity in complex
social structuring processes. The first approach by Randall Collins (1981,1987,1988a, 1988b)
uses an empirical distinction (see Fig. 3.1, la) and time to "link" the micro and macro
realities. The second approach by Anthony Giddens (1979,1981a, 1981b, 1984,1987) takes on
a theoretical distinction (see Fig. 3.1,2b). There are at least two aspects that are common in
the both approaches. First, Collins and Giddens both advocate the use of time in their
theoretical considerations in attempts to reconcile the micro-macro, agency-structure
distinctions. Second, both approaches fail to demonstrate the use of temporality that is
Figure 3.1 Types of the Micro-Macro Distinction
1. Empirical distinction
a. Empirical reductionism
i Macro Level 5-
2. Theoretical distinction
a. Theoretical reductionism
b. Theoretical synthesis
Temporality in the Empirical Micro-Macro Distinction
The distinction between the micro and macro in a rather commonly understood way
is that the distinction which "refers to differences in the units of and scale of analysis
concerned with the investigation of varying extensions of time-space" (Sibeon, 1999:328). As
it is often noted (Archer, 1995; Ritzer and Gindoff, 1994), the micro-macro distinction in
American sociology, compared to its European counterpart, tends to be seen as an issue of
the size and scale of social events. This is the case in the empirical distinction that was
discussed previously (see la and lb in Figure 1). Randall Collins (1981,1987,1988a, 1988b)
takes this approach in an attempt to bridge the gap between the micro and macro social
realities; he "translates" macrosociological phenomena, or their empirical verifications to the
micro level. According to Collins, "Macrostructure consists of nothing more then large
numbers of microencounters, repeated (or sometimes changing) over time and across space"
(1987:195). For Collins, macro is nothing more than the aggregation of micro social events
(Mouzelis, 1995). Therefore, the only macro variables identified by Collins are time, space,
and numbers (1987,1988a). Collins argues that as the values of time, space, and numbers as
variables increase, the social condition increasingly approaches the macro level (1988a). For
instance, if a social phenomenon takes place over the period of four years with a hundred of
people occupying five hundred square feet, it is more macro than an event involving a few
people sitting in a cafe for an hour. His conception of the micro and macro distinction clearly
assigns empirical primacy on what is micro over macro entities. For this reason, Collins'
approach represents the type of empirical reductionism seen in 2a (see Fig. 3.1) even though
he claims to employ at least the empirical synthesis of 2b (Fig. 3.1). Since only time, space,
and numbers are macro variables," [everything else in a theory is microprocesses" (Collins,
1987:195). When the macro variables or macro entities consist only of time, space, and
number, what makes the structural emergent possible for Collins? His empirical bias
becomes explicit when he argues that the "structures never do anything; it is only persons in
real situations who act" (1987:195). Since Collins seems to believe that only observable and
empirically testable phenomena are sociology's concern, his "theory-building strategy"
ignores structural effects and structural emergence all together as theoretically valuable
concepts (1981). Although Collins claims that "macro structures tire not entirely reducible to
micro processes," this is only because the macro variables consist of "the numerical
distribution of human situational encounters across time and material space" (Collins,
1988b: 246). Collins' approach to translation, converting macro phenomenon into variables
that are countable and measurable with micro-observable vocabulary, is the standardization
of social reality by quantification for the purpose of achieving empirical convenience.
Collins is aware of the atemporal tendency in sociological theory: "Not much
attention has been paid to time span in sociological theory" (1988a:388a). However, in his
empirically oriented approach to the micro-macro, the conception of time employs only a
single aspect of temporality. Just as his micro-translation is the quantification of the micro-
macro relationship, time in Collins' approach is also treated in a quantitative manner. Time,
for Collins is a macro variable that determines the "macro-ness" of social events. It is
undeniable that the presence of a quantified temporality, such as one measured by a clock,
greatly influences the social processes. However, Collins' "time scale," ranging from seconds
to centuries, is located external to the events that he tries to analyze (1988a: 387). When
Collins attempts to pay attention to the importance of duration, duration as a measurable
form of temporality exists only in his translation of the micro-macro. Time does not exist
within the social processes in this picture. Time (in this case duration) is only used by a
theorist (i.e., Collins) who formulates the frame of analysis for the micro-macro distinction,
not by social actors or structures. The temporality of social events is ignored by an
observer's time. Time is used only to reduce the analytical incompatibility in the relationship
between micro-agency and macro-structure into standardized variables for his theory
The temporality that Collins acknowledges but fails to apply in his "micro-
translation" is, in fact, one of the most commonly found forms. The Newtonian conception
of time is calculable, measurable, and predictable since it is controlled by clock time that
measures uniform flow of temporality. This type of temporality's presence in the social
world is undeniably influential. Temporality is standardized (Zerubavel, 1981,1982a),
mechanized (Couch, 1984), and universalized (Luhmann, 1982). The universalistic character
of temporality -or instrumental temporality-when adequately conceptualized by using an
analytical distinction between the micro an macro (see type 3 in Fig. 3.1), is effective in
explaining the constraining aspect that signifies the relationship between the macro and
micro temporalities. The effect of the temporality, however, can only be conceptualized if it
is adequately incorporated into a picture of social processes. Regardless of the type of
temporality that is used in an analysis, the effect of time must be explained in association
with other structuring variables, not as an external metatheoretical measurement.
Temporality in Structuration Theory: Agency and Structure
Anthony Giddens, a leading proponent advocating the use of time in sociological
theory,19 has continued to suggest the importance of time (1979,1981a, 1981b, 1984,1987).
Giddens contends that "Most social analysts treat time and space as mere environments of
action and accept unthinkingly the conception of time, as measurable clock time,
characteristics of modem Western culture" (Giddens, 1984:110). Giddens repeatedly accuses
functionalism of being atemporal because time is identified only with social change in
functionalist theory (Giddens, 1979,1981b). He argues that the conception of system stability
must not be abstracted from time, "since 'stability' means continuity over time" (1979:199).
Likewise, Giddens is critical of the use of time by Collins (1981); "to treat time and space as
'variables' is to repeat the characteristic error of most forms of orthodox social science"
(Giddens, 1984:141). Giddens suggests that the notion of time must be included in social
theory since "the structural properties of social systems exist only in so far as forms of social
conduct are reproduced chronically across time and space" (1984: xxi). Consequently, in his
structuration theory, Giddens (1984) attempts to demonstrate the utility and significance of
time. Giddens' structuration theory is also largely concerned with the distinction, or
dualism, between agency and structure. In this sense, Giddens shares some foci with Collins
(1981,1987,1988a, 1988b) in that they both attempt to incorporate time in their
reconciliations of the distinction between the micro-macro and agency and structure. The
significant difference in their analyses comes from the fact that Giddens' approach is focused
on an ontological question rather than an epistemological one (Layder, 1987). He rejects the
micro-macro distinction; he views the issue only as a trivial epistemological confrontation.
Giddens argues that such epistemological disputes should not be the concern of social
theory. Rather, social theorists should be concerned with "reworking conceptions of human
being and human doing, social reproduction and social transformation" (Giddens, 1984:xx).
This postulate constitutes his theory of structuration that rejects the dualism between
objectivism and subjectivism (and the micro and macro) which involves the distinction
between structure and agency. Giddens argues that such dualism must be replaced by the
concept of duality. He attempts to re-conceptualize the distinction between agency and
structure since agency and structure need not be independent of each other; rather the
relationship is based on the idea of the duality of structure (1984). By the duality of
structure, Giddens means that structure is "recursively organized sets of rules and
resources" and is reproduced across time and space (Giddens, 1984:25). Therefore, although
structure is constraining for agency, it also is enabling. Structure is viewed by Giddens as
both the medium and outcome of the reproduction process. This reproductive aspect of
social structure is one of the main analytical constituents of structuration theory.
Giddens centralizes the notion of routinization in his structuration theory. It is this
habitual aspect that maintains and stabilizes social order in the structuration theory.
Giddens defines routinization as "the habitual, taken-for-granted character of the vast bulk
of the activities of day-to-day social life" (Giddens, 1984:376). The routinized day-to-day life
consists of duree and longue duree. Duree is an individual daily life that is reversible for the
habitual and a repetitive characteristic of social conduct. Longue duree is institutional
reversible time that is "both the condition and the outcome of the practices organized in the
continuity of daily life"(1984:36). The repetitive, recursive and continuous nature of
routinization is the main temporality in Giddens' structuration theory. While routinization is
a useful concept in structuration theory for emphasizing the recursive nature of social life,
which is amply documented as an aspect of temporality (e.g., Zerubavel, 1981,1982a;
Weigart, 1981), it is an unsatisfactory in explicating the relationship between agency and
structure. The mere distinction of duree and longue duree as individual biography and
institutional history does not add a sufficient depth to the explanation of time to
structuration theory. The sense of continuity and recursive processes, according to Giddens,
supplies ontological security to individual agents (1984). However, mere continuity and
recursiveness are not sufficient accounts of temporality for structure. Margaret Archer
criticizes Giddens that "What he stresses is that theorizing must have a temporal dimension:
what he misses is time as an actual variable in theory"(Archer, 1985: 72).20 Likewise, the
concept of a time-space distanciation suggested by Giddens also adds little to the explanation
of the role time plays in the social structuring processes. Time-space distanciation (Giddens,
1984,1979) indicates that the social system is stretched across time and space; the social
system is situated in a time-space grid. In other words, while the time-space distanciation
may locate a social system in time, it does not necessarily locate time in the social system.
Here, Giddens consequently takes a very similar approach to the micro-macro empirical
distinction offered by Collins (1988a) for time is treated as external to the social structure.
Giddens (1984), like Collins (1988a), only locates social structure, including the relationship
between the micro and macro as well as that of agency and structure, in the Newtonian time
scale (Elchardus, 1988). Therefore, even though Giddens attempts to assign a moving image
to the picture of society (e.g., "society as time traveler" in Giddens, 1979), structure still
Giddens also seems to confuse time and history. In fact, what he is narrowly
demonstrating in structuration theory is historical temporality that contextualizes social
events despite his explicit advocacy of time. Giddens emphasizes the contextual nature of
history which gives a situated character to the social interaction in time-space. The
contextualization in history is, of course, not a new issue to historical sociologists who are
concerned with temporality and historical particularity (Griffin, 1992,1995; Aminzade, 1992;
Jensen, 1997). For Giddens, historical contextuality is equated with the location of events and
action in the time-space continuum. However, time-space does not contextualize a social
event. It is not the location, but more precisely the historically particularized events and
structural relationship at the time and the locale that contextualize certain social
phenomena. The mere location of events in time-space itself does not assign any
contextuality. Therefore, Giddens' equation of time and historical contextuality becomes
problematic. In order to equate the two, one has to ignore the socially and culturally
constructed aspects of temporality. Giddens' structuration ignores the fact that time itself is
contextualized. The conceptualization that removes time from the picture of social structure
cannot take into account the possibility of time being historicized (Eilas, 1992). The
continuous change in the temporal system (e.g., Dohm-van Rossum, 1996; Couch, 1984) does
not allow the separation of time from history to be completed since time itself is susceptible
to historical particularities. Time is, indeed, produced and reproduced under the influence
of the historical contextualization.21
Structuration theory's treatment of time also rejects the possibility of a socially
embedded aspect of time. Even though Giddens notes the recursive nature of social
practices, he fails to consider that temporal structure is produced and maintained by social
structure. In turn, social structure also uses the temporal system to coordinate, regulate, and
orient itself (Luhmann, 1992,1995). Giddens seems to ignore the fact that time is used by
individual agents as well as by social structure. Giddens, therefore, does not clarify the
relationship between structure and time and structure and routine (Elchardus, 1988,
Bergmann, 1992).22 Therefore, Giddens does not exploit the utility that the conception of
time has to the theoretical issues in the distinction between agency and structure.23 In
structuration theory, "institutional recursiveness never reflects the durability of constraint: it
always represents the continuity of reproduction" (Archer, 1985:66). In sum, contrary to his
advocacy of treating temporality as a foundational concept of theory, time does not exist in
the process of structuration. While it may be historical, Giddens' structuration theory
remains atemporal. The structuration theory is used by Giddens not to temporalize
structure, but to historicize actions in order to assign a reproduction capacity to daily social
The Analytical Micro-Macro Distinction
Recent discussions on theoretical synthesis tend to highlight the differences between
the micro-macro and agency-structure distinctions (Mouzelis, 1995; Ritzer and Gindoff,
1994; Siebon, 1999). The emphasis on the differences between the two types of distinctions is
based on the premise that the micro-macro distinction refers solely to the size and scale. The
claim is legitimate since the micro-macro as an empirical reference made to size and scale
cannot be equated with the formulation of the agency-structure. Therefore, Sibeon (1999)
and Mouzelis (1998) claim that the micro-macro must not be equated with agency-structure
(i.e., micro-agency or macro-structure). However, Margaret Archer contends that the
differences in the various terms are "little more than historical and comparative variations
on the same theme" (Archer, 1995:7). Archer believes that the distinctions between micro
and macro and agency and structure are "fundamentally identical" (1995: 7).
It is my contention that the distinction between the micro and macro can be equated
with the distinction of agency and structure if proper distinctions are made in order to
specify which type of distinction is being made. It is necessary to develop the concept of a
third approach on the issue of the micro-macro: an analytical distinction (see Fig. 3.1,3). I
posit that all three types of approaches empirical, theoretical, and analytical are fruitful
for they posses theoretical utility in explaining the micro-macro distinction as long as a
reductionist approach is avoided. Particularly, the empirical and analytical distinctions are
the most useful in describing a conceptual synthesis, linking the micro and macro.24 The
empirical distinction for micro-macro linkage is useful because there are empirically
identifiable levels. The empirical distinction explicates the scale, size, and level of social
events. The individual also acknowledges the distinction in his or her daily life. It is, for
instance, evident when the distinction is expressed as a "big" society, a "small" community,
"face-to-face" interaction, and so on.25 Nonetheless, the approaches using an empirical
distinction tend to see the empirical level distinction as the only identifiable and theoretically
applicable distinction (e.g., Collins, 1988b). An analytical distinction, on the other hand,
should be free from empirically identifiable levels. Jeffrey C. Alexander (1987) suggests that
equating the "micro with individual is extremely misleading, as, indeed, is the attempt to
find any specific size correlation with micro/ macro difference. There can be no empirical
referents for micro or macro as such. They are analytical contrasts..." (1987:290). When two
distinctive forces are conceptualized, they are abstract concepts. Morris Zelditch also
acknowledges that in the case of a theory dealing with the micro-macro, the theory that
deals with generic structural processes "is neither micro nor macro, it is abstract" (Zelditch,
1991:104). I further suggest that the specification of the empirical level for certain theoretical
orientations should not be the only focus of the micro-macro problem. Rather, the issue of
the micro-macro distinction, as well as that of agency-structure, should be concerned with
the properties that distinguish one pole from another. If neither the sizes nor theoretical
chauvinism is the issue, which factor differentiates the micro from the macro? In other
words, which aspect, if any, that differentiates the micro and macro should be the focus of
theoretical analysis, apart from an empirical distinction? Echoing Alexander's (1987)
analytical approach, Archer views that:
What justifies the differentiation of strata and thus use of the terms
'micro' and 'macro' to characterize their relationship is the existence of
emergent properties pertaining to the latter but not to the former, even if
they were elaborated from it. But this has nothing to do with size, site or
sentiment (Archer, 1995: 9).
According to Archer, the emergent propertiesstructural properties that are
irreducible to individual actions in a causal explanationcharacterize the macro. These are
the properties of social phenomena that an empirical approach (e.g., Collins, 1981) cannot
explain. The mere sizes of events or aggregation of individual actors are not sufficient
factors to explain structural emergence. For instance, the differentiation process, social
ordering, or structural effects (Blau, 1960) cannot be fully explained by merely looking at the
individuals reductively. At the same time, agency must also not be ignored. One of the main
concerns in the micro-macro and agency-structure involves the danger of taking a
reductionist approach, whether intentionally or not. Giddens' (1984) attempts in
structuration theory to deal precisely with the dilemma when he views structure as both
constraining and enabling. Without the aspect of enabling, concepts of structure is often
criticized as being too rigid or as a reified reality.26 In Giddens' case, the constraining aspect
of structure is accommodated by the enabling aspects to give some comfort to the agency
using the concept of the duality of structure. The efforts by Giddens and Collins can be seen
as attempts to make the relationship between micro and macro (or agency and structure)
symmetrical for the reason of linking the two. The standardization or "translation" of the
two forces is necessitated by the incapability of their theoretical approaches to view the
distinction analytically. When an analytical distinction is employed, an epistemological
standardization is not needed. It is, then, feasible to view the micro-macro distinction as an
asymmetrical relationship without micro reductionism or structural reification. The
distinction involves the problem of emergent properties, which overrides mere aggregation
of the individuals and reconciliation of the gap. At the same time, the emergent properties
need not connect to a specific empirical level (Archer, 1995). On the other hand, the problem
of human agency, including intentionality, motivation, and subjective perception clearly
posts other incompatibilities for the distinction. The micro-macro relationship is, therefore,
inevitably asymmetrical. The externality, constraining, and obdurate characters of the macro
reality differentiate themselves from that of the micro. Thus, the fundamental relationship
between the macro and micro is conceptually extractable from complex empirical
To highlight the asymmetrical relationship, I incorporate three structuring processes
between the two. For macro-oriented process, (1) constraining is used as one of the major
attributes. In addition, two micro oriented processes, (2) referencing, and (3) negotiation, are
incooporated to differentiate between the micro and macro (see Fig 3.2). The distinction
between micro and macro is treated as a relational one. This is the relationship between the
one force generated by structural emergence and the other of agency. Since I am here
particularly referring to the temporal structure, I term the particular form of temporality
associated with the process of constraining as macro-temporality and the temporality
associated with referencing and negotiation as micro-temporality. The fundamental process of
temporalization is possible because of the micro-macro relationship. Temporalization is a
process in which social structuring is sustained by the incorporation of both types of
temporalities. The analytical distinction between micro-temporality and macro-temporality
does not refer to a specific empirical level. In fact, the relationship is an abstract one that can
be found at any empirical level. The distinction does not refer to any sizes or scales for the
same reason. Therefore, this is the most elementary form of temporalization.
Figure 3.2. The Relationship between Micro-Macro Temporality
MwwwMwwweMwwim (^) Constraining. MaT ^ ^IiT
(3) Negotiation: MaT 5 MiT -> MiT
The process of constraining (1) arises out of the relationship that macro-temporality
(MaT) has to the micro-temporality (MiT). In a more general way of conceptualizing it, the
term constraint is typically defined by various types of constraint such as material
constraints, structural constraints, and sanctions (Giddens, 1984). Here, constraint is used to
indicate any restraining forces between MaT and MiT. Restraining forces include aspects
such as the coercive (e.g., "deadline" with sanctions), regulative (e.g., scheduling),
integrative (e.g., shared notions of a particular holiday) and so on. The forces of constraint in
a particular relationship involving temporality are generated by the three forms of
temporality (instrumental, historical, and normative).27 The constraining forces make the
relationship between macro-temporality (MaT) and micro-temporality (MiT) asymmetrical.
The constraining forces are unidirectional from MaT to MiT. The process of referencing (2),
on the other hand, has a direction in opposition to the constraining process (MiT->MaT). The
degree of constraining is dependent on the process of referencing. The MaT must be referred
by MiT in order to be capable of reinforcing the restraining forces. For instance, an actor
must know what is imposed upon him/her.28 Otherwise, MaT cannot be appropriated in the
relationship. The constraint of MaT does not just exist "out there," it must be "activated" by
the interdependent relationship with MiT. The third process that connects MaT and MiT is
Negotiation (3) is the process of adjustment in the relationship. The rigidity of MaT
is compensated by the process of negotiation. It is an equivocal process. MaT and MiT are in
a constant negotiation process to maintain the asymmetrical relationship. For instance, the
change in a temporal system in a particular social structure is possible because of the forces
generated by the process of negotiation.
Because the process of temporalization does not limit the empirical scope, the
relationship between MaT and MiT can be found at any empirical levels. In fact, the
relationship is unconfined and may exist at any empirical level. The relationship transcends
empirical specificity which makes it possible for each levels' temporality to interact with
each other. Therefore, when an empirical distinction of the micro empirical level (MiL) and
the macro empirical level (MaL) are identified within the picture of micro-macro temporality
(MaT/MiT), the conventional formulation of the equations:
(Macro empirical level equated with macro-temporality)
(Micro empirical level equated with micro-temporality)
should be replaced with:
MaL: MaT +MiT
(Macro and micro temporalities co-exist at the macro empirical level)
MiL: MaT + MiT
(Macro and micro temporalities co-exist at the micro empirical level).
Therefore, an abstract relationship between MaT and MiT may be specified in an empirical
distinction of the micro-macro. In this, I use the term "empirical level" to indicate the scales
and sizes of the events and phenomena that are analyzed. The events at a macro empirical
level have larger sizes or scales in relation to events at the micro empirical level. These levels
are empirically specific and relational. However, the distinction between micro-temporality
and macro-temporality is not empirically specific. In an elementary form, the relationship
between micro-macro temporalities and micro-macro empirical levels can be represented as
illustrated in Figure 3.3.
Figure 3.3. The Basic Relations of Micro-Macro Temporalities
Macro empirical level
Micro empirical level
The range of the micro-macro temporality relationship is not limited to one level either.
Therefore, some variations can be added to the scheme (see Fig. 3.4). A pattern seen in a
relationship 1 (rl) indicates that the micro-macro temporalities interact with each other on a
macro empirical level. The relationship 2 (r2) shows the temporal relationship found on a
micro empirical level. The relationship 3 (r3) displays a temporal relationship that ranges
from the macro empirical level to that of micro.
Figure 3.4. The Ranges of Temporal Relationships
(rl) (r2) (r3)
Macro empirical level
Micro empirical level
This scheme of micro-macro relationships is not, of course, exhaustive. The above
types of ranges are only designed to show the possibilities of micro-macro relationships in
the scheme of micro-macro empirical levels. However, the scheme still can reveal some
limitations of the micro-macro distinction as it is conventionally conceptualized. The
relationship between MaT and MiT on the macro empirical level (rl) shows that the
equation of micro and agency as individual agency is impossible. The MaT-MiT on the
micro level (r2) also shows that equating structure with macro empirical level cannot be
used as a complete formulation. Furthermore, the structural constraint of temporality, which
is provided by the macro-temporality, is also present at a micro empirical level. The
interpenetration of micro-macro temporalities makes the maintenance of the micro-macro
empirical relationship possible. One does not have to rely on the macro empirical level to see
the presence of the macro-temporality. In fact, the linkage between the micro and macro, the
so-called the micro-macro link, is found at any empirical level. The two forms of temporality
interact with each other by generating constraining, referencing and negotiation processes
between them. This asymmetrically coordinated relationship between the micro-temporality
and macro-temporality can be identified throughout the empirical reality.29 Although
temporality is assigned to each analytically distinguishable force (i.e., micro and macro
temporalities), the relationship may still be too abstract to conceptualize the temporalization
process. The types of temporality that are the major constituents of the micro-macro
temporality are explicated in the next chapter which explains temporalization in greater
TEMPORAUZATION OF THE MICRO-MACRO LINK
In the previous chapter, the application of the time concept to the micro-macro
distinction illustrates the significance of temporality in the sociological discourse. In this
chapter, I will explain how temporality is one of the main fundamental structural properties.
I argue that time is, in fact, one of the emergent properties. Time also constitutes our reality
of material environments, societal norms, and history. As such, a single conception of time
cannot fully elucidate the enigmatic characteristics of temporality. While the complete
plurality of temporality will not be discussed, it is, nevertheless, even in the narrow scope of
the issue of the micro-macro, that relevant types of temporality can be identified and
classified. Such a categorization of temporality would consist of (1) instrumental
temporality, (2) historical temporality, and (3) normative temporality. These three types of
temporality are necessary to generate the process of temporalization a structuring process
facilitated by temporalityand they are located on any of the empirical levels. After
illustrating the three temporalities, the temporalization processes that emerge from the
interplay of the three main temporalities will be depicted.
The Types of Micro-Macro Temporality: Temporal Differentiation
Instrumental temporality (see Table 4.1) is a temporality that is characterized by
being mathematical, unidirectional, and linear. It can easily be quantified, calculated, and
standardized. The Newtonian conception of time well qualifies as an example of
instrumental temporality because of its linearity and uniformity. It is a rationalized from of
temporality. Its uniform flow adds predictability, allowing for precise scheduling and
planning. This is the time of clocks to which modem Western cultures are highly
accustomed. The rapid advancement of technology has made clock time more accurate than
ever before (Withrow, 1988). The times of New York and Tokyo are synchronized with that
of London, successfully maintaining a global time, or Coordinated Universal Time (UTC). It
is a suitable temporality for a highly structured economic system. The mechanized time
which is quantifiable and measurable in reference to what a clock measures, has become the
resource for individuals to "sell" their free time for wages. The popular expression, "Time is
money," demonstrates the conception that time is not only a limited resource and a valuable
commodity in the emergence of capitalist economies, but it is also an exchangeable,
The scientific conception of causality also relies heavily on instrumental temporality.
If event A is caused by another event B, the temporal location of event B must be prior to
that of A. The absolute linearity of temporality is assumed. Even though the obsession for
accuracy on that which is measured by clocks in western culture is very easily identified
with instrumental temporality, instrumental temporality is not limited to the precision of
clock time.30 Any temporal reference points that are used to provide a relatively structured,
standardized, and predictable system with a universalistic character qualifies as
instrumental temporality.31 One of the most easily observable natural phenomena for
measuring time has been the rising and the setting of the sun which creates brightness and
darkness as the earth spins; what we call day and night. This is a type of instrumental
temporality the reference points of which have only been celestial observations. Rather than
the accuracy of the astronomical temporal system, the predictability of celestial movement
itself has had enough capacity to produce instrumental temporality.
Instrumental temporality is one of the common temporalities found in sociological
inquiry. Parsons' conception of action time represents the use of instrumental temporality
since linearity is one of the prerequisites of his action scheme (1937). Also, Collins' (1988a)
use of time in his micro translation strategy is representative of instrumental temporality
(see Fig.4.1). For Collins, time, as a macro variable must be linear to withstand the scaling
and measurement of social events. Likewise, Giddens' (1984) time in his time-space
distanciation is instrumental as opposed to his emphasis on historicity (i.e., historical
temporality). Sorokin and Merton (1937) contrast quantitative clock time with qualitative
social time, the latter being their main focus. The contrast between the clock time and other
forms of temporality (e.g., process time in Davis, 1994) has become one of the foci in
sociology of time. Yet, instrumental temporality seems to be perceived as "undesirable"
because it represents the tyranny of the modem temporal structure. Many studies, therefore,
tend to focus on psychological variations in temporal consciousness (e.g., Flaherty, 1999).
However, in the process of temporalization, instrumental temporality itself cannot be
structurally constraining or enabling. It requires interaction with other types of temporality
as well as with micro-macro temporality forces.
Figure 4.1. Instrumented Temporality in Collins (1988a)
Historical temporality can be characterized by the quality of being historical which
involves continuity, contextuality, historicity, and particularity. Being less of a universalistic
temporality than instrumental temporality, historical temporality encompasses a variety of
characteristics. The characterization tends to include the capacity of agency, be it 2m
individual or collectivity, which locates human practices in the center. When the empirical
micro-macro distinction is used to identify various types of historical temporality, "history"
as a collective form of representation of past practices represents the macro empirical level,
and "biography," the micro empirical level conception of the past (e.g., Mills, 1959).
One of the most prominent forms of historical temporality in Giddens' structuration
theory is represented in his conceptions of duree and longue duree. The duree of daily life
experience is biographical temporality and longue duree is large scale, institutional historical
practice. Giddens argues that "The self cannot be understood outside of 'history''history'
meaning in this case the temporality of human practice" (Giddens, 1984:36). The emphasis
on the practice in defining historical temporality in a way to distinguish itself from
instrumental temporality, however, is not sufficient because instrumental temporality is
likewise derived from human practice. For instance, the standardization of a temporal
system is nothing but a consequence of human activity. However, instrumental temporality
is often seen as being related more to the "physical" or "natural" domains, rather than to the
social domain.32 This is precisely because constraining forces are generated from the
universalistic character of instrumental temporality. The historical temporality at the macro
empirical level is somehow less susceptible to certain types of reification.33 Therefore, the
particularistic quality that is rooted in the contextual nature of history is rather the main
characteristic that separates historical temporality from instrumental temporality. Also, the
tendency to associate historical temporality with subjectivity can also legitimately separate it
from the objectivity of instrumental temporality. Thus, the empirical reference of historical
temporality may also include collective memory, historical consciousness, evolution, and
narratives. All of these phenomena are possible in both the macro and micro empirical
levels. For instance, there can coexist an individual memory and the historical consciousness
The contextual aspect of historical temporality is often treated by historical
sociology as the main issue dealing with time. Larry Griffin suggests that to take history
seriously is to take time seriously: time as context and time as narrative" (Griffin, 1995:
1252). Contextuality is the essential aspect that must be taken into account in historical
analysis. However, it is also essential to recognize that the elucidation of contextuality
facilitated by a historical particular does not mean that temporality is fully explained. The
major misconception within recent discussions by historical sociologists is that being
historical also means being temporal (e.g., Griffin, 1995).34 Rather, historical temporality is
only one type of temporality; therefore, focusing on historicity does not guarantee
temporality.35 By attempting to move away from the linear and quantifiable aspects of
temporality, recent historical sociologists tend to see time as a mere "contextualizer", not
time itself, nor is the nature of time is questioned. I argue that historical temporality not only
contextualizes social phenomena, but is also contextualized by its own social processes. The
very nature of temporality's reflexivity implies that time constitutes social life, and is a
constituent of it. Even though historical temporality does specify the historical location of
social events (thus, events are contextualized by other surrounding events), time is also
specified by the temporality of the present. Mead's notion of the past (1932) clearly
illustrates the reflexive and historical nature of experience and environment. Mead's
conception of the self (1934) is thus a historical self. The continuous dialogue between "I"
and "Me" necessitates a historical condition of the self. Historical temporality is often
represented by an image of "moving" and/or changing society. The location and duration of
change (or stability) are measured according to instrumental temporality. However, it is the
third type of temporality -normative temporality- that determines what changes or remains
Table 4.1 Types of Temporality
Types of temporality Temporal process Empirical references Representative work
Instrumental temporality standardizing, synchronizing physical time, natural time, action time, world time, system time, clock time, "time is money," linearity, sequence, uniformity, future anticipation Parsons (1937) Collins (1988a) Archer (1995) Luhmann (1982)36 Flaherty (1993)
Historical temporality ritualizing, routinizing reproduction History, biography, duree, longue duree, historical specificity, contextuality, collective memory, time consciousness, narratives, modemity-postmodemity, past Giddens (1984)37 Denzin (1982) Griffin (1995)
Normative temporality scheduling, regulating, constraining, negotiation, referencing calendar, week, day, year, season, holiday, sun, moon, deadlines, punctuality, turn- taking, anniversary, waiting, contemporaneity, present Durkheim (1915) Sorokin & Merton (1937) Schwartz (1982) Zerubavel (1981) Mead (1932)
Normative temporality is the temporality that integrates all three temporalities.
Normative temporality makes the other two temporalitiesinstrumental temporality and
historical temporalitysocially relevant by providing structurally relevant temporal
processes. It makes time socially and structurally embedded. Hence, it is normative
temporality that assigns social meaning to both instrumental and historical temporalities. As
an integrative temporality, normative temporality generates normative order and
expectations that are associated with the temporalization process. The calendar provides the
temporal process of scheduling and routinizing to social practice. Many "functions" of the
calendar have been identified and investigated (e.g., Zerubavel, 1977,1982a, 1982b, 1981;
Couch, 1984). Durkheim states that "[a] calendar expresses the rhythm of collective activity
while ensuring that regularity" (Durkheim, 1915:23). However, it is not the mere succession
and sequential order of numbers in a calendar that provides such normative forces. In fact,
the well-calculated and developed system of a calendar represents instrumental temporality.
Rather, it is that which is signified and symbolized by the calendar that is the facilitating
forces of normative temporality. In other words, associated norms, values, and ethics
maintain normative temporality. Examination of the instrumental aspect of the calendar can
show uniform and predictable occurrences of a day in every month, such as the twenty-fifth
day of the month. When the month is December, normative temporality associated with the
event of Christmas would assign certain social relevance to the day. The norms, values, or
ethics associated with instrumental and historical temporalities, such as punctuality are the
characteristics of normative temporality.
The concept of a deadline cannot be effectively explained when only the aspect of
instrumental temporality is used. However, a deadline contains an aspect of instrumental
temporality. Instrumental temporality is necessary for standardizing the temporal location
of the deadline to determine its universalistic quality; therefore, it can be agreed upon when
the deadline is. The normative aspect of a deadline is the consequence of actions associated
with the deadline. Punctuality, not the temporal location of the deadline, normatively
constrains the actions associated with a deadline. Instrumental temporality here merely
enables normative temporality to be effective in reinforcing punctuality. The process of
scheduling is also the normative temporality that uses instrumental temporality. The process
of scheduling can ensure the predictability of events especially when scheduling is based on
the instrumental temporality of clocks. The predictability, however, does not emerge as
unintended consequence of instrumental temporality. Rather, the possibility of
predictability, which promotes further scheduling with instrumental temporality, is a
normative aspect of temporality. It is often a preference arising from the differentiation that
generates constraining forces. Giddens argues that routinization provides the function of
fulfilling the individual's ontological security (1984). I suggest, however, that the repetitional
character of the routinization of daily life is really a form of normative temporality.
Admittedly, the predictability and security of routinization help to orient and coordinate
social practice. Such social practice is structured only in such a way that predictability can be
viewed as essential. In the routinization, it is not normalcy that is recursively maintained,
but predictability as normalcy that is maintained. In fact, the promotion of the processes of
scheduling and routinizing is the main feature of normative temporality.38
It should be clear at this point that the three types of temporalities are not separable
in actual operation. They are interdependent with each other for temporalization. Each
temporal process associated with the three temporalities is also not an independent process
in its operation. Thus, it is necessary to explicate the interactional effects that are generated
by the three types of temporality.
The process by which temporality is organized in three different ways (i.e.,
instrumental, historical, normative) is a process of temporal differentiation. In the process of
temporal differentiation, time is quantified, standardized, and universalized as instrumental
temporality. Time is historicized, contextualized, and particularized as historical
temporality. Both are normatized as integrational forces (normative temporality). The
combination of these three temporalities also forms three types of configurations. Since
normative temporality (NT) is the main facilitating force that appropriate instrumental (IT)
and historical (HT) temporalities work on, the process of temporalization always involves
the NT. Thus, temporal differentiation creates (1) the temporal configurations that include
normative and instrumental (NT +IT), (2) normative and historical (NT+HT), and (3) all
three of them (NT+IT+HT) can be identified.
(1) IT/NT: Instrumental-normative configuration (IN)
(2) HT/ NT: Historical-normative configuration (HN)
(3) IT/HT/NT: Instrumental-historical-normative configuration (IH)
The temporal configuration of instrumental-normative (IN) does not exclude historical
temporality. Likewise, the historical-normative configuration (HN) involves instrumental
temporality. The qualification of each depends on the degree to which a particular
temporality is more pronounced then the other. The process of scheduling, for example, has
an aspect of historical temporality for it involves continuous flow, and any scheduling
processes are situated in historical contextuality. However, what is more pronounced in
scheduling is instrumental temporality; its predictable and uniform characteristics are
facilitated by the normative temporality of regulative and integrative preferences. The same
is true for the temporal structure of historical-normative (HN). The historical continuity of
daily life such as duree and longue duree must refer to instrumental temporality for its
operation by supplying a certain sense of predictability in its repetitional quality. At the
same time, certain conceptions, such as "tradition," presuppose both normative temporality
and historical temporality. Tradition as the medium of the interaction between the
individual and institutional routines, "represents the moral command of 'what went before'
over the continuity of day-to-day life "(Giddens, 1984:200). The social integration
(Lockwood, 1964) of historical and instrumental temporalities is provided by normative
Normative temporality provides the facilitating force in the micro-macro
relationship. Instrumental temporality or historical temporality itself cannot posses the
structuring process of constraining. The structural aspect is exploited only by normative
temporality. Therefore, a mere description of the three temporalities cannot fully explain the
micro-macro relationship or the temporalization process. The interrelationships among the
three make the temporalization of the micro-macro relationship possible. When the three
temporalities are viewed as independent forces, only normative temporality ranges from the
micro to macro (Fig. 4.2) as a social integrative force.
However, in the actual operation of temporalization processes, the distinction between the
macro IT (IT1 in Fig. 4.3) and the micro IT (IT2) is only possible because of the NT. The HT
can also be differentiated (HT1 and HT2) by the NT. The differentiation of the temporal
structure by the interaction of three temporalities involves the micro- and macro-
temporalities as well as the structural processes of constraining, negotiation, and
Figure 4.3 The Variation in the Range of Temporalities
The distinction between past, present, and future adds to the enigmatic character of
temporal structure. A temporal structure with instrumental-normative configuration tends
to be future oriented. The standardization and unification of temporalities facilitate
scheduling of future with predictability. One the other hand, a temporal structure with a
historical-normative configuration tends to be past oriented. The repetitional and
continuous regularity ensured by historical temporality implies that the knowledge of the
existence of a pattern is presupposed. Normative temporality is an orientation in the
present. Subsequently, the integration of micro-macro temporalities and temporal
configurations takes place in the present with normative temporality. Normative
temporality represents the synchronized temporal structure that is located in the
contemporanieity of the present (see Table 4.2).
Table 4.2 Temporal Orientation
Types of temporality Temporal orientation
Instrumental temporality Future
Historical temporality Past
Normative temporality Present
Mead's (1929,1932,1938) conception of temporality for this reason qualifies as normative
temporality. One of his goals is to reject unnecessary dualism. Mead's approach reconciles
the dilemma of structure-agency and the micro-macro by introducing temporality to the
picture of experience by the self. By viewing the present as a locus of reality, Mead
centralizes the normative temporality that contains both instrumental and historical
temporality. Mead's integrated view of normative temporality represents a temporal
configuration of instrumental-historical-normative. Since a temporal configuration is used in
a temporal structure in its actual operation, each temporality with a certain temporal
orientation never provides a single temporal orientation (see Table 4.3).
Obviously, instrumental-historical-normative covers all three orientations of past,
present, and future. If a temporal structure maintains such a temporal equilibrium in micro
and macro temporalities, the structure tends to be stable. On the other hand, if a temporal
structure contains different types of configurations in its micro-macro relationship, there is a
gap in the temporal orientation. This "gap," which is produced by the differential temporal
configurations in micro-macro temporality, holds the quality of the structural emergence.
The structural gap is a dividing force for activating the temporalization. In other words, a
temporal structure must maintain a gap to sustain the system.
Table 4.3 The Temporal Orientation of Temporal Configurations
Temporal configuration Temporal orientation
Instrumental + normative future + present
Historical + normative past + present
Instrumental + historical + normative future + past + present
Temporalization of the Micro-Macro Link
The use of a view that identifies temporality on different levels is not a new idea.
Durkheim (1915) distinguishes between the time of the individual, the time of the universe,
and the time of the social life (i.e., social time). Even though his main focus is on social time,
the distinction he made implies a type of hierarchy in the temporal structure. More explicit
attempts to combined the level distinctions and temporality are offered by Georges Gurvitch
(1963,1990) who emphasizes the complexity and multiple characteristics of social time.
Gurvitch distinguishes between the macro and micro levels of social time, or what he refers
to as "depth levels," by focusing on the multidimensionality of the social world, includeing
the duality of each level. Gurvitch defines social time as "the time of convergency and
divergency of movements of total social phenomena, whether the total social phenomena are
global, group or micro-social and whether or not they are expressed in the social structure"
(Gurvitch, 1990:67). By recognizing micro and macro social realities, Gurvitch argues that
the "hierarchy of the social times," which involves various levels of time, might be upset by
different conflicting levels of social time (Gurvitch, 1963:175).39 Lewis and Weigert (1981)
suggest the concept of "temporal stratification." They suggest that social times is stratified in
the hierarchy of structuring forces from cyclic time, institutional time, interactional time, and
self time. The cyclic time has structural priority over others, such as self time. Therefore,
Lewis and Weigert write: "As a result of temporal stratification, when competition between
forms of social time arises, it is self time which is frequently the loser" (Lewis and Weigert,
1981:445-446). A form of time that is viewed as structured at a societal level facilitates "top
down" constraining force over other times. The constraining process is viewed as generating
the major integral forces in the operation of temporalization in the micro-macro relationship.
Constraining. Referencing and Neeotiation
As I have argued previously, an analytical distinction between micro-temporality
and macro-temporality locates the relationship anywhere in an empirical micro-macro level
continuum. Macro-temporality and micro-temporality coexist and interact with each other
through the processes of constraining, referencing, and negotiation. When combined with
the three temporal configurations produced by temporal differentiation (instrumental-
normative, historical-normative, and instrumental-historical-normative), the relationship
between micro and macro temporalities produces a variation in terms of temporal structure.
Since the range of the relationship between micro and macro is not limited by the range of
the empirical micro-macro distinction, various patterns of the temporal structure are
possible. The range that may be identified by empirical distinctions in the temporal structure
[tsl] is more macro empirical than that of a temporal structure [ts2] that can be found in
micro empirical level (see Fig. 4.4).
Figure 4.4 The Ranges of Temporal Structures
MaL [tsl] MaT (IN) i [ts4]MaT(IN) [ts5]MaT (IN)
n MiT (HN) T i L iV
[ts3] MaT(HN) t
[ts2] MaT (HN)| MiT (IN) \
AiL MiT (HN) MiT (IN) MiT
MaL: Macro empirical level
MiL: Micro empirical level
ts: Temporal structure
At the same time, the range of the relationship exhibited by another temporal structure [ts5]
covers a wider range than one that is covered by tsl or ts2. The range of another temporal
structure [ts3] does not correspond to any of the other temporal structures. Also, while the
macro-temporality of ts4 may be conceptualized at the same empirical level as that of ts5,
their micro-temporalities indicate different empirical levels. Such types of temporal
configurations can be identified in both micro and macro temporalities. For instance, in a
temporal structure (e.g., [tsl]), the macro-temporality (MaT) has a configuration of
instrumental-normative (IN), and historical-normative (HN) for the micro-temporality
(MiT). In another temporal structure (e.g., [ts4]), macro-temporality and micro-temporality
both have instrumental-normative (IN). The overall characteristic of such a temporal
structure can be specified by the balance between constraining and negotiation. The
variation in the balance between the two processes is determined by the degree of
negotiability which is circumscribed by the temporal configuration of the temporal
structure. The degree of constraining and the degree of negotiability are negatively related.
The higher the degree of constraining, the lower the degree of the negotiability. When the
degree of negotiability is high, the constraining force is conversely low. The mediating factor
here is the process of referencing. The degree of constraint must be known in the
relationship between the micro and macro temporalities in order to become relevant (that is,
effective in constraining).
Because the major determining factor in the characteristics of a temporal structure is
constraining (or the negotiability), the characteristics can be further specified by the
configuration of the three temporalities. Assuming that the presence of normative
temporality as facilitating force is constant, the differences between instrumental
temporality and historical temporality characterize the constraining force. An Instrumental-
normative configuration has a higher degree of constraining forces than a historical-
normative configuration. The instrumental aspect of temporality, as I indicated earlier, is
effective in generating structural constraints. One of the most influential temporal processes
that emerges in temporal differentiation is the process of standardization. The
quantification, unification, and sequentialization of temporality are possible if temporality is
standardized. The development of technology in the process of social differentiation helps to
further temporal differentiation. In the course of temporal differentiation, human beings
have attempted to replace the temporal structure which relies on "natural time" with a
temporal structure that has a more universalistic character. The standardization of time,
however, has only replaced the temporal control of nature with social temporal controls
(Zerubavel, 1982). A rigid schedule as one of the "new" temporal constraints, what
Zerubavel (1982) calls "sociotemporal order," is one of the fundamental characteristics of
modem Western society. One type of instrumental temporality can only be replaced by
other types of instrumental temporality.
The high degree of constraining by the instrumental-normative can be incorporated
into the relationship between the micro and macro temporality. In a temporal structure
which consists of the instrumental-normative (IN) as its macro-temporality, the constraining
degree overrides the micro-temporality if it has a historical-normative configuration (HN).
Thus, the degree of negotiability in this relationship can be formulated. Because IN has less
negotiability in general than HN, MaT with IN has higher degree of constraining force than
MiT with HN. Thus, the particular micro-macro relationship can be characterized as IN.
When it is compared to another relationship characterized as HN (e.g., MaT (HN)/MiT
(HN)), the MaT/MiT (IN) has less negotiability, thus, is higher in constraints.
When < indicates the degree of negotiability,
MaT (IN)/MiT (HN) =MaT/MIT (IN) < MaT (HN)/MiT (HN)=MaT/MiT (HN).
Therefore, the more the instrumental-normative configuration is pronounced in a
particular relationship, the more sustainable the temporal system. In the case of the
relationship where MaT with HN and MiT with IN, the temporal system's sustainability is
lower than the relationship consisting of MaT with (IN) and MIT with IN because of an
asymmetrical relationship between MaT and MiT and the differences between IN and HN in
the degree of negotiability. Thus, the assumptions of the relationship between temporal
differentiation and micro-macro temporality can be summarized as:
1.1 The temporal configuration in macro-temporality is likely to have constraining
forces that override the negotiation by a temporal configuration of micro-
1.2. The less the negotiability, the higher the degree of constraint in a temporal structure.
2.1 The instrumental-normative configuration is likely to provide more constraining
force than the instrumental-historical or historical-normative configurations in a
2.2. The instrumental-historical configuration is likely to provide more constraining
force than the historical normative configuration.
2.3. The instrumental-normative configuration is likely to provide less negotiability than
the instrumental-historical or historical-normative configurations in a temporal
2.4. The instrumental-historical configuration is likely to provide less negotiability than
the historical normative configuration.
IN IH- HN (in the order of constraining degree)
3.1. Instrumental-normative as a temporal configuration of macro-temporality has the
most constraining forces among other combinations.
3.2 Instrumental-normative as a temporal configuration of macro-temporality has the
least negotiability among other combinations
It is possible to provide a rank order of temporal structures with different configurations. It
is also possible to contrast two or more temporal structures in terms of their negotiability
derived from specified temporal configurations (see Fig. 4.5). The process of temporal
differentiation circumscribes the relationships among temporal structures as well as the
micro-macro relationship. The temporal structure with the least negotiability is MaT
(IN)/MiT (IN) and the highest in negotiability is MaT (HN)/MiT (IN) (not MaT (HN)/MiT
(HN). From the lowest negotiability to the highest:
MaT (IN)/MiT (IN) < MaT (IN)/MiT (IH) < MaT (IN)/MiT (HN)
MaT (IH)/MiT (IH) < MaT (IH)/MiT (HN)< MaT (HN)/MIT (HN) < MaT (HN)/MiT (IH) <
MaT (HN)/MiT (IN)40
Figure 4.5 A Model of Temporal Differentiation
(IN) < (HN)
This formulation shows that the temporality's most influential structural "function"
or consequence is the regulation that emerges from the asymmetrical relationship between
the micro and macro. I suggest that this is where the structural emergent properties can be
identified. Temporal differentiation and the gap between instrumental-normative
(universalistic) and that of historical-normative (particularistic) in the micro-macro
relationship creates strains and constraints. The micro-macro temporal structure with
instrumental-normative provides powerful forces in creating habitual aspects of behavior.
When a deviation from the regularity occurs* the deviation is often associated with the
notion of individuality, creativity, and emergence.
The conception of rigid structural constraints, however, is treated as problematic in
recent theoretical discourse. The constraints provided by the normative order upon
individuals is viewed as imposing an overly socialized picture of agency (e.g., Blumer,
1969).41 However, as Layder (1987) points out, the notion of structural constraints does not
mean that individuals "have no choice in absolute sense, rather it involves both an external
limitation on social activity as well as an agent's strategically informed decision to take the
constraint into account"(1987:44). Giddens (1984), in his structuration theory, attempt to
reconcile the gap between structural constraints and intentionality and creativity of agents.
His suggestion that structure is simultaneously constraining and enabling deals precisely
with the linkage between the conflicting forces. Just as the micro-chauvinism that ignores
structural constraints should not be a satisfactory answer to the issue of the micro-macro
distinction, macro-reductionism must also be avoided. The process of referencing in the
analytical micro-macro distinction presupposes both agency and structure or micro-
temporality and macro-temporality. In order for constraining forces to be effective in a
micro-macro relationship, the constraint must be relevant to that which is constrained. For
instance, it is required in an effective constraining situation that the individual who is
constrained acknowledge the force. Yet, one does not need to follow a certain constraining
force. The constraint is still available as long as it is acknowledged. In other words, the
effectiveness of constraint depends on its relevance prior to its actual operation. The process
of referencing, through which the constraints are acknowledged, is a necessary ingredient in
the relationship between micro and macro temporalities. The referencing process involves
the process of anticipation and confirmation. The anticipation process implies the
anticipated consequences of negotiation with constraints, which are derived from the
previous interaction between the micro and macro temporalities. Confirmation, on the other
hand, is a process of confirming the consequences of externality in the negotiation processes.
Individual agents are the ones who actually decide on temporal externality because the
process of negotiation implies the actors' capacity of knowing the situation. They know what
time is. That is, the actors can deal with the temporalized situation as a result of temporal
socialization (e.g., Lauer, 1891). The process of referencing, instead of internalization, means
that the actors who practice a temporalized scheme of action, either in accordance with
structural macro temporality or not, will make a reference to macro-temporality in order to
make the selection. Again, the constraining aspect of the temporal structure must be
confirmed by the actors. Otherwise, the effect will soon be diminished.
The asymmetrical and interdependent relationship between micro-temporality and
macro-temporality necessarily excludes the dualism between an objective, external
temporality of structure and a subjective, internal temporality of agency. Each temporal
structure contains both micro and macro temporalities and the three types of temporality
(i.e., IN, HT, and NT). The integration of these temporalities is accomplished by normative
temporality. As a facilitating force of social integration, normative temporality appropriately
situates temporalities that are seemingly either subjective or objective in the temporal
structure. However, the legitimization of normative temporality is affirmed by both the
instrumental and historical temporalities. At the same time normative temporality can
fortify the appropriation of instrumental and historical temporalities. The process of
standardization or scheduling can override other type of temporally associated activities
since the instrumental aspect is approved by normative temporality and in turn affirms, the
obdurateness of normative temporality.
The explication of the temporal structure presented in this thesis does not
necessarily provide an exhaustive, complete picture of the temporal structuring processes
that are relevant to the social structure. An illustration of such a complex picture of temporal
processes is beyond the scope of this paper. However, by narrowly limiting the analytical
focus on the social structure to the distinction between the micro and macro temporalities, I
have shown some specific processes that are analytically identifiable. The approach that
employs an analytical distinction between the micro and macro temporalities helps to
explicate the processes.
The process of temporalization involves temporal differentiation among three
temporalities. Interactions among instrumental, historical, and normative temporalities
creates three temporal configurations: instrumental-normative, historical-instrumental, and
historical normative. The micro and macro temporalities can be characterized by the types of
their temporal configurations. The conjunction of the micro-macro relationship and the
temporal configuration forms an asymmetrical relationship in the temporal structure. The
specific relationships between temporal structures can be examined by the degree of
constraining and negotiability.
The processes of temporalization can be identified in any social structure. Since
there is no single social structure that is free from the presence of temporality, the
temporalization processes are universally identifiable processes. Of course, I am not
claiming that all temporalization processes are identical. Rather, the processes, which
contain some variations, are inevitable in sustaining social structure. Temporalization is a
generic "timeless" structural process.42 That is, identifiable processes endure over the
passage of time without being influenced by historical and cultural particulars. Even though
time is historically contextualized, the process of temporal differentiation helps temporality
to endure historical particulars by leaning towards the instrumental-normative
configuration of temporal structure. What we call "time" is produced, maintained, and
modified by structural relationship among the three temporalities. The processes which
emerge from the relationship create variations in the conception of "time." The variations
also contribute to the maintenance and modification of the temporal system.
If sociology is willing to take time seriously, it is necessary to further develop the
concept of time that centralizes temporality in sociological theorizing. One of the reasons for
the disorganization of the concept of time in sociological theory, I believe, is that the
potential conceptual connection that temporality provides for other sociological concepts
has not sufficiently been exploited. In turn, by relating the concept of time to other
explanatory concepts, sociological theory can also benefit from the utility which concepts of
temporality have to theoretical explanation.
1 For instance, sociology of family (Daly, 1996), and the art worlds (Vail, 1999).
2 There seems, however, to be an implicit consensus among general sociologists over the
status of time. That is, time is treated as an unproblematic entity, and therefore is not seen as
a topic of sociology. Thus, the claim for conceptual confusion is only a case if time is
considered to be a valid topic of sociological inquiry. The incoherence in the field of study of
time (Nowotny, 1992) is, I believe, also rooted partially in the claims of the interdisciplinary
aspects found in time. Such aspects of time and the approaches toward it are amply
documented (See for example, Adam, 1990; Grrenaway, 1979; Fraser, 1975; Whitrow, 1980).
3 This is, I believe, largely due to the recent trend of an "empirical bias." The atheoretical
tendency in sociology is escalated by the emergence of more easily generated middle range
theories along with the decline of general, formal theorizing and the popularization of the
use of research with statistical packages without theoretical foundations. Unfortunately, the
pursuit of analytical theorizing is admittedly an unpopular activity in the recent sociology.
A similar concern is expressed by others (e.g., Collins, 1989).
4 This is evident, at least implicitly, even in classic works such as those by Durkheim (1915).
See also Collins (1988a).
5 However, it is not my intention in this thesis to provide an exhaustive review of all major
sociological studies involving the topic of time. For an excellent and extensive review on
time and social theory, see especially Adam (1990) and Bergmann (1992).
6 See Le Poidevin and Macbeath (1993) and Adam (1990). There are numerous works on the
philosophical concerns on time. Even though it is not easy, and perhaps it is not right, to
separate philosophical influences from a sociological approach, it is not my intent to provide
a review of such a vast stream of thought. My aim here is on sociological theory in the
7 Even though there were also works by other French social theorists before Durkheim such
as Mauss (Provenost, 1989), the credit has been given primarily to Durkheim by many
sociologists of time (e.g., Maines, 1987).
8 The use of George Herbert Mead's notion of temporality without maintaining the dualism
by symbolic interactionists, is nowhere to be found with only few exceptions (e.g. Joas, 1985;
Strauss, 1991,1995). Herbert Blumer, a sociologist known as the major elucidator of the
works of Mead, completely ignores the temporal aspect of Mead's theory (Blumer, 1969).
Blumer's interpretation of Mead remains atemporal, characterizing the general tendency
exhibited by contemporary symbolic interactionists. Symbolic interactionism remains not
just atemporal but is trapped in the cage of subjectivity. When temporality is a topic,
interactionists have the tendency to only refer to the works of Schutz, Heidegger, Husserl,
and Merleau-Ponty instead of G. H. Mead (e.g., Denzin, 1982). Norman Denzin (1982)
emphasizes the importance of time in human experience, but the temporality offered by
Mead is completely ignored also in his account of time. Rather, Denzin's temporality is that
of a mere subjective experience of phenomenology. The same is true for Avery Sharon's
study (1982) of the intersubjective "concert time" of musicians. It disregards Mead's
temporality all together, and by, instead, focusing on Schutz, it demonstrates its subjectivist
bias (see also Flaherty, 1999; Katovich and Mac Murray, 1991; for similar tendencies).
9 At the same time, I should note the existence of significant exceptions. Especially, despite
their theory's incompatibility with other theories, Niklas Luhmann (1978,1982,1990,1995),
and G. H. Mead (1929,1932,1938), are among those who actually take time seriously. They
treat time as a central concern in their theorizing (Adam; 1990; Nowtony, 1992; Bergson,
1992; Elchardus, 1988). Their fundamental theoretical assumptions cannot proceed further
without the use of temporality.
10 There is a notable increase in the empirical interest in the sociology of time. For example,
there are studies on: the relationship between time and gender (Pasero, 1994; Elchardus and
Glorieux, 1994), time and technology (Adam, 1992; Silverstone, 1993), variations in temporal
perception (Flahetry, 1999), time in ideological discourse (Gough, 1997) identity (Urry, 1994;
Katovich, 1987a), punctuality (Shaw, 1994), the art world (Vail, 1999), disasters (Forrest,
1993), family (Daly, 1996), organizational time (Fine, 1990), time and child development
(Pouthas, et al, 1993), and change in cultural time systems (Nishimoto, 1997; Shimada, 1995).
11 This is often the case for theorizing on many other sociological topics. On this issue, see
Collins (1989) and Turner (1987).
12 Giddens calls the micro-macro issue "phony war" because Giddens views the issue only
as either an empirical level specification or theoretical chauvinism.
131 must note that Giddens, despite his contradictory view on the atemporal structure
(structuring), should be credited for the recent popularization of time in sociology (Adam,
1990). Thus, many studies refer to Giddens' work in their discussions concerning time and
sociology (see Elchardus, 1988; Nowotny, 1992; Bergmann, 1992).
14 Fine argues that "classical sociologists did not specialize in levels of analysis as we now
expect of theorists" (1991:163). This is not to say that there was no issue of the micro-macro
distinction. Rather, the issue was not institutionalized for one to identify theoretical
15 A wide variety of approaches is found in the distinctions. Some are empirically grounded
concerns on the relationship between individuals and collectivity, and others are more
analytical. The micro-macro problem also shows such diversity in discussion (see Alexander,
et al 1987; Archer, 1995; Kemeny, 1976; Mouzelis, 1995; Wiley, 1988; Knoor-Cetina and
Ciourel, eds., 1981; Hazelrigg, 1991; Fine, 1991; Hays, 1994; Ritzer, 1990; Huber, ed., 1991;
16 Ritzer and Gindoff (1994) categorize the micro-macro distinction as largely an issue in
American sociology, whereas agency-structure refers to the issue in the European
sociological community. I believe this distinction has some "metatheoretical" utility in terms
of mapping the issue. At the same time, however, it is a rather simplistic picture. In
actuality, both terms the micro-macro and agency-structure share both similarities and
differences that cut across simple geographical categorization.
17 C. Wright Mills' sociological imagination (1959), which advocates the link between
personal troubles and public issues, is an example of empirically grounded concern of the
18 Some theorists have argued that the assumption that the two levels may be successfully
linked is unrealistic for many types of theorizing (e.g., Turner, 1987,1995).
19 Adam maintains that Giddens "legitimated the concern with time in British social theory"
20 Archer, at the same time, falls into the same dilemma that Collins experiences. Time is
used as variables, but it is treated as the only form of time that is instrumental. Ironically,
Archer (1995) takes a very similar direction as Giddens to use time to link structure and
agency. She explicates the process of structuration by correcting the sequential structuring.
Archer also makes a same mistake of not temporalizing the agency-structure relationship as
Giddens does. Archer then attempts to conceptualize the temporal relations between
structure and action" (1995:71). She uses time as same way Collins does which is to treat
time merely as a measurable and undifferentiated temporality.
21 Evidence of the change of the temporal system is documented and discussed further in
elsewhere (Toulmin and Goodfield, 1965; Elias, 1992; Bender and Wellbery, 1991).
22 For this reason, Elchardus believes that, "Structuration theory, as it stands in the
Constitution of Society, adds little or nothing to our understanding of how society constitute
their temporality" (Elchardus, 1988:40).
23 The distinction between the agency-structure in the case of Giddens, refers to the
relationship between agency's participation (with intentionality and consequences) and
structural constraint to the structural reproduction process.
24 The theoretical distinction, however, may not be useful when the individualistic tendency
of sociological theorists is considered; it tends to invite rather unproductive and debunking
metatheoretical activity for there are analytical and methodological incompatibilities among
different theories that do not seem to be resolvable.
25 In this way, the micro-macro link does not always need to be connected in an empirically
specified way. It is, indeed, already "connected" in the actual social reality; there are not two
levels in agency's experience, that is, our experiences as a unity.
26 Many criticize functionalism on this point. The concept of normative order gave an
impression of an overly socialized image of actors (e.g., Blumer, 1969; Wrong, 1961).
27 The relationship between macro-temporality and micro-temporality is, once again, an
abstract one. Therefore, at this point, I will not provide more substantive evidence to
support it, in order to avoid the misconception of assigning each to a specific empirical level.
28 In fact, the actors do know what is restrained and available to them. See Giddens' concept
of an actor's knowledgeability (1984).
29 G. H. Mead's (1934) well-known conception of the development of the self may be seen as
a treatment of the micro-macro distinction in a similar way. Through the process of role-
taking, the role of the generalized other or "the attitude of the whole community" is taken
by the individuals (Mead, 1934:154). This is the process by which "the social process or
community enters as a determining factor into the individual's thinking" (1934:155). For a
similar approach on the micro-macro distinction using the work of Goffman and Durkheim,
see Millar (1982).
30 A major concern in the sociology of time has long been focused on dealing with the
mechanistic character of Newtonian time, or the antithesis of it. It is sometimes dismissed as
"physical time" as if this is not a concern of sociology. Social time is treated as if it only has
qualitative aspects. I argue that the instrumental temporality is equally important for the
analysis of temporality.
31 The modem technological revolution has also changed individuals' life-times by using
sophisticated medical science. Life expectancy has increased and become relatively
stabilized. Certain duration of each individual's lifetime is ensured making it possible for
individuals to plan "forward" in the future throughout their lives (Friedland and Boden,
1994). Life-time is also instrumentalized.
32 See Adam (1988).
33 However, the teleological dilemma as a type of reification is apparent in historical
temporality (e.g., human destiny).
34 See also Jensen (1997), Aminzade (1992), Issac (1997) for their similar tendencies.
35 See chapter 3 for this point on Giddens (1984).
36 Luhmann (1982) also incorporates historical temporality. In this classification, I used
Luhmann's systemic time as an example of instrumental temporality, especially the
emergence of "world time."
37 Instrumental temporality is also evident in his time-space distanciation (Giddens,.1984).
38 For another example, Schwartz (1982) and Adam (1990) notes that waiting implies the
acceptance of values, norms, knowledge, and power relations. This particular aspect of
waiting is normative temporality.
39 In order to explain this complex picture of temporality, Gurvitch offers eight categories of
social time (Gurvitch, 1963,1990). They are: Enduring-time, Deceptive-time, Erratic-time,
Cyclic-time, Retarded-time, Alternating-time, time in advance of itself, and Explosive-time. For the
further explanation of the typology, see Harvey (1989).
40 The possible combinations are as follows:
MaT (IN)/MiT (IN)=ININ=IN
MaT (IN)/MiT (IH)=INIH=IN
MaT (IN)/MiT (HN)=INHN=IN
MaT (IH)/MiT (IN)= IHIN=IN
MaT (EH)/MiT (IH)=IHIH=IH
MaT (IH)/MiT (HN)=IHHN=IH
MaT (HN)/MiT (IN) =HNIN=IH
MaT (HN)/MiT (IH)= HNIH=HN
MaT (HN)/MiT (HN)=HNHN=HN
411 sense that insofar as the inexorability and externality of social structure are viewed as
ideologically undesirable characteristics of social system by the micro-sociologists, an
approach containing reductionism and chauvinism cannot be avoided. The separation of
what is desirable and what is explained should be made. This is similar to the well-known
criticism against Parsonian functionalism which states that it supports the status quo.
However, this view is, I believe, only implied in Parson' work and an unfair treatment of his
theory. A theory's possibility of the maintenance of an existing power structure of any sort,
should not be confused with theoretical orientation and ideological orientation. After all,
sociological theory should be able to dismiss such a criticism for its further development as
explanatory inquiry. It is especially evident when the issue of the micro-macro or agency
structure are raised. When the relationship between agency and structure is concerned, it is
popular to treat actor as powerful willful, full of intentionality, capable of changing
structure. This view in itself is not a problem, but when the structural features are reduced
to that of intentionality it becomes a problem.
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