21st March 2014
In Search of Sustainable Economies of Time
In a context where any hope of a speedy recovery from the 2008 economic crisis is increasingly untenable, there has been an explosion of interest around alternatives to the neoliberal capitalist model. Focusing on the potential of collaborative relationships, rather than ones based on competition, proponents of the new economics are exploring gift economies, the potential of the peer-to-peer paradigm, shared consumption, crowd-funding and rediscovering cooperative models. Broadly speaking, shifts in economic models have often been understood as bringing with them shifts in understandings and experiences of time. Industrial capitalism is often linked with new uses of clock time, while late capitalism is associated with a speeded up, 24/7 networked time. Could it therefore be the case that alternative economies might also be shifting dominant temporal paradigms? There are some indications that this might be the case. The wide interest in the Slow movement (including Slow Food, Slow Cities, Slow Science and Slow Money), presents a paradigmatic example, but there are also more subtle shifts such as tendencies to reconceptualise social intervention in terms of non-linear models of change, such as those seen in the Transition Towns movement. Focusing on case study material, interviews and archive research completed as part of the AHRC-funded Sustaining Time project, this paper will explore the question of whether there might be something like ‘sustainable time’ and what it might look like.
Michelle Bastian is a Chancellor’s Fellow at the Edinburgh College of Art, University of Edinburgh. Her work focuses on the role of time in social methods of inclusion and exclusion. She explores this in a range of areas including local food, climate change, transition towns, feminist theory, clocks as political interventions, alternative economies and more-than-human communities. Her work has been published in Theory, Culture and Society, Environmental Philosophy and Feminist Review.