Time and Society

By Warren D. TenHouten

Subjects: Anthropology
Paperback : 9780791464342, 275 pages, June 2006
Hardcover : 9780791464335, 275 pages, April 2005

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Table of contents

1. Introduction
2. A Case Study of the Australian Aborigines
3. Patterned-Cyclical Time Consciousness
4. Patterned-Cyclical Time Consciousness, Continued
5. Ordinary-Linear Time Consciousness
6. Patterned-Cyclical and Ordinary-Linear Time and the Two Sides of the Brain
7. Immediate-Participatory and Episodic-Futural Time and the Brain
8. The Two and the Four, and Possibly More: Social Duality and the Four Elementary Forms of Sociality
9. Natural and Rational Experiences of Time
10. Communal Sharing and Patterned-Cyclical Time Consciousness
11. Equality Matching and Immediate-Participatory Time Consciousness
12. Authority Ranking and Episodic-Futural Time Consciousness
13. Market Pricing and Ordinary-Linear Time Consciousness
14. Text and Temporality
15. An Empirical Test of the Theory
16. Discussion
Name Index
Subject Index

This is the first general theory of time-consciousness and social experience ever developed.


Time-consciousness—long a shared objective of philosophy and social thought—is key to understanding different cultures and their cognitive adaptation to one another. Warren D. TenHouten's remarkable book achieves this goal by providing a bold and original three-level theory of time-consciousness, its neurocognitive basis, and social organization. Using classical and contemporary ethnographies of Australian Aborigines and Euro-Australians to support his theory, TenHouten shows how involvement in hedonic sociality—emphasizing equality and community—leads to time that is cyclical, present oriented, and more generally natural; whereas agonic sociality—based on inequality and agency—leads to time that is linear, future oriented, and more generally rational.

Warren D. TenHouten is Professor of Sociology at the University of California at Los Angeles.