Monday, January 24, 2011

The Ecology of Time

Unfortunately, I don't read Croatian. From the abstract, the article sounds fascinating.

Author Cifric, Ivan
Title: Ecology of Time. Time As Integrative and Disintegrative Factor
Journal Title: Socijalna Ekologija ISSN: 1330-0113
Volume: 19 Issue: 1 Date: 2010-01 Pages 5-32


Ivan Cifrić; Department of Sociology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Zagreb

The work places emphasis on (a) the importance of some terms in the ecology of time with regards to socioecological research (irreversibility, rhythm, tempo, speed, time sovereignty, ecological timeprint, measure of time), (b) time as the medium of dis/integrative processes and (c) the need to slow down the tempo of life and social changes. The main thesis is that the problems (in the environment and social) arise due to the clash between two dimensions of time and their rhythms – the rhythm in nature (natural) and the rhythm in society (cultural). The clash arises because of the intentional tendency of modern society to separate social (cultural) time from natural time, to separate social time and social rhythm from the human being, and to subordinate natural rhythm and natural forms of time to time and accelerated rhythm of contemporary society. Through universal time contemporary society integrates different cultures and attempts to integrate nature into society through the domination of social time. At the same time its actions are culturally disintegrating. In order to decelerate the tempo a radical reorientation of post/modern society is needed, it is necessary for it to accept the dynamics of the relation between natural and social systems, and their different time perspectives on the level of individual and social actions.


  1. Isn't this basically suggesting a redomination of social systems by natural systems? Not that social systems have the upper hand, but they arguably have a limited degree of independence-and isn't that a good thing?

  2. I wouldn't phrase it exactly that way -- as a redomination of one by the other -- but, rather, as the need for the two to be in harmony with one another. Tying the material back to other items that have been discussed here, I think there are some fundamental similarities between what Cifrić is on about and the work of Geoffrey West and his arguments about the differential rates of scaling in nature and society. West identifies differences in scaling laws which have implications for time. (Note, for example, his claim that the system must be reset more and more rapidly -- read innovation occur at a more and more rapid rate -- for society to continue to grow as it is now.