Time is experienced as a continuous stream of sensations, but may be recalled as a sequence of discrete events whose starts and ends are associated with clock times. The durations of events can subsequently be calculated from these recalled sequences (these calculations are only rarely made by the actors themselves—implying that we are normally unaware of our own totals of elapsed time devoted to our own activities). Time diaries are continuous logs of event sequences, usually constructed retrospectively, for randomly selected prescribed periods, usually of a single day.
The CTUR uses a large collection of these diaries, from more than 25 countries, and covering the early 1960s to the present, to develop new sorts of socio-economic theory, combining time and money indicators (wage rates), as well as longitudinal evidence from panel and cohort studies. It draws on a broader base of empirical evidence than is usual in studies of social change, to provide new answers to pressing questions about the evolution of the work/leisure and paid/unpaid work balances, the implications of these for health and wellbeing, and how they vary by country, age, gender and possession of material resources.
Our aim is to arrive at a well-coordinated scientific approach to the understanding of time allocation, founded on the very best historical and cross-national comparative evidence, which starts at the micro-sequential level of individuals’ everyday life and builds progressively to a macro understanding of social change. We seek innovative models of the determinants of the balances among the various sorts of work and leisure, based on observations of how representative samples of people spend their time.
Primary time use research is an intrinsic part of our overall time-use programme. Click here to see a summary of our work.
Additionally, we have a number of separately funded projects, including: