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Time-Space Traces

Bengi Su Ertürkmen Aksoy

Published Apr 14, 2021

1.1 Routines and Locales in Daily Life

According to Giddens (1986: 8) daily life’s durée, is "a flow of intentional action". However, this flow is not a one-way flow due to the repetitive character of "routines" in daily life. Routines can be anything done in a repetitive manner on regular basis (daily, seasonally and so on). Therefore, they are the most essential components of everyday life. Individuals encounter (Goffman’s term) or interact (Giddens term) with others while performing the routine practices of daily life in time-spaces.

Time-geographer Hägerstrand (cited in Giddens, 1986) defines the spaces where encounters take place as "stations". Stations are "stopping places" where individuals slow down their movements during encounters or social gatherings. Giddens, on the other hand, argues that the spaces of interaction are not mere stations. According to Giddens (1986: 118), interactions take place in "locales" and the settings of these locales are "essential to specifying its [interaction’s] contextuality". Since the term locale expresses a context rather than a situation, he prefers to use it throughout his structuration theory instead of "place" which is commonly used by the time-geographers. In a similar vein, it can be argued that locale is the time-space where the actor-human interacts with each other via a focused and / or unfocused activity. Locales can vary from a room to a street, from a shop to a factory and or a city. At this point, the definition of street by sociologist Lefebvre as the author of the Critique of Everyday Life should be mentioned. According to Lefebvre (2003), streets as urban space contains two different situations: (1) a "place for interaction", it transports people between home, work and consumption activities and causes superficial encounters, (2) a "meeting place", it is not only the transit place where circulation takes place, but also the places where various gatherings take place.

1.2 Time-Space Traces

Swedish geographer Hägerstrand has developed and mapped the concept of time-geography in space through the phenomenon of the routinized structure of everyday life. In his study, Hägerstrand analyzed the places and times in which individuals carried out their daily life activities through “time-space maps”. By marking the duration of the actions taking place on the space, he added the time dimension to the maps he produced (Giddens, 1986). In this regard, although they were called 'time-space maps', time-geographers produced a ‘graphical diagram’, not a map.

Graphical diagrams created by time-geographers (Giddens as well) provide a very important basis as they show the time-space trajectories and intersections in the route in every day's activity. However, these diagrams are ambiguous to analyze or understand the contexts of the locales. In addition to that, one individual's daily routine diagram is not sufficient to determine the encounters (with different individuals) during / between the activities.

Time-space traces, alternatively, reproduce the daily routines of multiple individuals in real time-spaces, to explore the context and structure of the locales by mapping. Maps detach architectural and urban spaces out of their contexts and make unrelated singularities, thus, complex spatial contradictions become fixed as a static representation. Mapping aims to generate new meanings from maps, which are static singularities by reproducing social construction in an instant spatial reality. (Schoonderbeek, 2015: 27). In other words, mapping is a "conceptual glue" that connects the visible world of buildings and landscape to the invisible world of social relations and networks (Janet Abrams and Peter Hall, 2006: 12 cited in Schoonderbeek, 2015: 27). It can be argued that ‘time-space traces’ is a representation produced by mapping.

As stated above, daily life activities are important when investigating the locales and traces of the transition between locales. With capitalism, home and workplace are separated from each other. Thus, the places, where the primary routine activities of daily life take place have been differentiated and the time-spaces where individuals interact are mainly divided into two locales (or in Hägerstrand’s terms, stations). Apart from these locales, time-space traces examine individuals' movements (the invisible traces considering mobility possibilities) between daily routines to investigate the spaces of interactions (like streets) between / during actions (Figure 1).


Ertürkmen-Aksoy, B.S. (2019). İstanbul Kent Mekânlarinda “Yüksek Sosyete” İletişim Ağı ve Modernlik Halleri, 1856-1896 (Network and Modernity of “High Society” in Urban Spaces of Istanbul, 1856-1896). Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Gazi University, Ankara.

Lefebvre, H. (2003). The Urban Revolution (transl. Robert Bononno). Minneapolis and London:

University of Minnesota Press

Schoonderbeek, M.G.H. (2015). Place-Time Discontinuities: Mapping in Architectural Discourse. Unpublished master thesis, Technische Universiteit Delft, Netherland.

Thrift, N. (2005). Torsten Hägerstrand and Social Theory. Progress in Human Geography. V.29, 3, 337-340.

Giddens, A. (1986). The Constitution of Society. UK: Polity Press.

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