Towards a New Science of Everyday Life

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, including how they vary by country, age, gender and possession of material resources.

The aim of the Centre is to arrive at a well-coordinated scientific approach to the understanding of time allocation, founded on the 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.


We aim to advance the collection and application of rigorously collected population-representative samples of time use diary data, and to conduct research into a wide range of issues in the human and social sciences using this data.

CTUR has been an ESRC research centre since 2014. Our ESRC research centre designation (until 2024) involves a range of activities including:

  • collecting new UK national time diary studies 
  • developing and piloting advanced diary instruments using motion sensors
  • body cameras GPS alongside conventional paper and internet based diaries and apps, as well as
  • maintaining and extending the Multinational Time Use Study.

Projects and Publications

working on projects

Current Projects


Completed Projects

journals on a shelf

Publications by CTUR Members

Cultural stratification in the UK: Persistent Gender and Class differences in Cultural Voraciousness

Tally Katz-Gerro and Oriel Sullivan

Using time use diaries to track changing behavior across successive stages of COVID-19 social restrictions

Oriel Sullivan, Jonathan Gershuny, Almudena Sevilla, Francesca Foliano, Margarita Vega-Rapun, Juana Lamote de Grignon, Teresa Harms, Pierre Walthery

Anticipation of work-life conflict in higher education by:

Susana Pasamar (Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Sevilla, Spain)

Karen Johnston (University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth Business School, Portsmouth, UK)

Jagriti Tanwar (Centre for Time-Use Research, IOE-University College, Bloomsbury, London)

Time use diary design for our times - an overview, presenting a Click-and-Drag Diary Instrument (CaDDI) for online application - Journal of Time Use Research by:

Oriel Sullivan, Jonathan Gershuny, Almudena Sevilla, Pierre Walthery, Marga Vega-Rapun

The Social Structure of Time: Emerging Trends and New Directions - Annual Review of Sociology by:

Benjamin Cornwell, Jonathan Gershuny, Oriel Sullivan

The social disorganization of eating: a neglected determinant of the Australian epidemic of overweight/obesity - BMC Public Health by:

Bittman M, Cleary E, Wilkinson-Bibicos C, Gershuny J

A short history of time use research: implications for public health - BMC Public Health by:

Bauman A, Bittman M, Gershuny J

Daily metabolic expenditures: estimates from US, UK and polish time-use data - BMS Public Health by:

Harms T, Berrigan D, Gershuny J

A validation study of the Eurostat harmonised European time use study (HETUS) diary using wearable technology - BMC Public Health by:

Harms T, Gershuny J, Doherty A, Thomas E, Milton K, Foster C

Testing Self-Report Time-Use Diaries against Objective Instruments in Real Time - Sociological Methodology by:

Gershuny, Jonathan, Teresa Harms, Aiden Doherty, Emma Thomas, Karen Milton, Paul Kelly, Charlie Foster

Mother and Child


The effects of breastfeeding not just on children, but also on the mothers and employers.

CTUR Working Papers