Temporal Belongings Research Network

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Social Sciences


Despite time often being experienced as an objective and unchangeable force within which we live our lives, work across the social sciences and humanities argues that shared understandings of time intervene into social life, shaping social methods of inclusion and exclusion, understandings of how change happens and who can make change, as well as accounts of how the past and future relate to the present. This suggests that, for those interested in understanding the possibilities and dynamics of community, it is crucial to analyse and explore the role of time in social processes.

This project follows on from work developed in the two Connected Communities scoping studies that most directly explored time and community, led by Bastian and Siebers, and aims to contribute to the debate in a wide range of ways. First, by exploring a number issues that were identified as key cross cutting themes in the scoping studies and at the first Temporal Belongings workshop (20-21 June, 2011 University of Manchester) in two workshops and one residential conference. These events will utilise non-traditional methods of participatory facilitation in order to support the development of cross-disciplinary and academic/non-academic links. The particular issues to be explored will be; 'Mobilising Community Futures, or can/should/must we do away with hope?'; 'Temporal methods - Exploring the temporalities of engagement, academia and policy'; and 'Power, Time and Agency - Exploring the role of critical temporalities'. Second, the project will contribute to the work on time and community by developing new resources that will help to identify how issues to do with time are being explored in the context of community research and non-academic sectors. This will include interviews with academic researchers and representatives of non-HEI organisations. And third, by developing a stronger network of academic and non-HEI partners who can support the futher development of this research area.

The project will support better understandings of how one of the most taken for granted aspects of daily life comes to shape experiences and understandings of community in a variety of ways. It will also explore how we can engage critically with these understandings and whether and how we might want to develop other understandings of temporality in order to respond more adequately to the complexity of social life.

Planned Impact

In part because the impacts are not immediately obvious in regard to this area of research, this project will focus on developing pathways to impact by supporting the involvement of non-HEI participants and producing new resources that will help to clarify how issues to do with time and community are being raised in third sector, policy and local government sectors. We anticipate that working closely with non-academic partners will help to identify key issues of concern as well as relevant avenues to disseminate the results of this and future projects.

By way of indicating what kinds of issues may be of more general relevance, work currently available suggests that issues to do with temporality are at work within a number of areas. The development of steady state economics and of social movements, such as the free-economy and voluntary simplicity movements, for example, present fundamental challenges to the ideal of perpetual growth, suggesting instead that a more positive and more connected future depends on rethinking what counts as progress. Likewise, community based responses to resource depletion, such as the Transition movement, reject the uncritical belief in technological progress and instead derive inspiration for future innovations from the past. Sociologists studying the clashes produced by the variety of nested and overlapping social times that characterise communities have explored the implications for social service provision (e.g. Urciuoli 1992) and effective community activism (e.g. Ryan 2008). Likewise in exploring the opportunities for responding to climate change and the current mass extinctions, there is increasing interest in the temporality of 'more-than-human' communities (e.g. Rose 2008, Rose & van Dooren 2011). Further, a number of Australian philosophers have recently argued that the possibility of developing more inclusive communities, in the face of continued indigenous deprivation and intense suspicion of asylum seekers and new immigrants, requires that we challenge calculative rationalist approaches to temporality (Diprose 2002, Secomb 2000, Lloyd 2000).

Even so, 'time' is generally understood to be something that is both basic common sense (e.g. in relation to the clock), as well as one of the most obscure metaphysical problems encountered in the course of our lives. As a result, making the links between what can sometimes be quite technical and complex work, with the more specific areas of relevance suggested here, will require the development of new networks, more non-technical resources, but importantly, the time for interested parties to connect and fully discuss the issues. It is for this reason that we have chosen to focus this project around a number of workshops, which will enable collaborative and exploratory discussions, and are also being proactive about involving non-HEI participants.


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Bastian, M (2014) Time and Community Development: An interview with Sally Rawlings in Temporal Belongings Interview Series

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Bastian, M (2014) Time and Community Development: An interview with Mandy Wilson in Temporal Belongings Interview Series

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Bastian, M (2014) Time and Community Development: An interview with Ruth Ben-Tovim in Temporal Belongings Interview Series

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Bastian, M (2014) Time and Community Development: An Interview with Alison Gilchrist in Temporal Belongings Interview Series

Description The aim of the Temporal Belongings Research Network project was to build capacity for a network around the issue of time and community. In order to do this we organised two one day workshops and a two day residential which focused on communities and hope, time in community development work, and the relationships between power, time and agency. To provide mechanisms to support the network outside of our events we continued to develop content for our website (including adding 37 new presentations), set up a JISCMAIL discussion list and continued adding to our mailing list. Recognising that time can sometimes seem like a relatively obscure topic, a further aim was to provide pathways for understanding how temporal issues might be relevant to non-HEI partners. We have thus developed an interview series that will contribute directly to this aim.
Exploitation Route As a capacity building project, the explicit aim for this project was to develop resources for others to use. A good example of how the work has been taken forward was the commissioning of a scoping study on Time and Migration by the ESRC funded COMPAS which utilised the method and library available from the website. The interview series is also a useful resource for those interested in community development. Finally, to support interdisciplinary exchange a number of collaborative facilitation techniques were used (e.g. world cafe, open space) and these have been taken forward and used by a significant number of the attendees in their own events.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://www.temporalbelongings.org/
Description Our work, particularly the event on Temporal Conflicts, has provided opportunities to reflect on their work and to analyse the role of time in shaping methods and expectations.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy
Impact Types Cultural,Policy & public services

Description TB2018 
Organisation Birkbeck, University of London
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Organisation and launch of a Temporal Belongings International Conference series.
Collaborator Contribution Organisational and monetary contributions to support this series.
Impact Ran an international conference in June 2018 for 150+ participants. This was a multi-disciplinary collaboration.
Start Year 2016
Description Hope and Community Futures workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The workshop had 30 attendees which included researchers, community professionals and postgraduates. In this workshop, we sought to critically explore the many ways in which ideologies and practices of hope, utopianism and futurity affect communities and their interconnections. We were interested in moving towards a better understanding of the place hope occupies in contemporary thinking about communities. We also sought to address the problematic nature of certain appeals to hope or to a future that is yet-to-come, while at the same time seeking to answer the question to what extent hope is a necessary component of community life and collective agency.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.temporalbelongings.org/hope-and-community-futures.html
Description Power, Time and Agency workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact There were around 40 attendees including researchers, post graduates and community practitioners. Benefits included increased knowledge, wider networks and experience of new conference methods (e.g. open space, world cafe) which a number of attendees have gone on to use in their own events.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL http://www.temporalbelongings.org/power-time-and-agency.html
Description Temporal Conflicts workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact The workshop had around 30 attendees including community practitioners/professionals, researchers and postgraduates. Attendees reported increased understanding of issues to do with time and interest in working on future projects. Some were the focus on the interviews conducted for the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.temporalbelongings.org/temporal-conflicts.html