'Pressed for time' - The differential impacts of a 'time squeeze'

Dale Southerton, Mark Tomlinson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

123 Citations (Scopus)


The 'time squeeze' is a phrase often used to describe contemporary concerns about a shortage of time and an acceleration of the pace of daily life. This paper reviews analysis of the Health and Lifestyle Survey (HALS), 1985 and 1992, and draws upon in-depth semi-structured interviews conducted with twenty British suburban house-holds, in order to shed light on 'senses' of time squeeze. 75% of HALS respondents felt at least 'somewhat' pressed for time, with variables of occupation, gender, age and consumption significantly increasing senses of being 'pressed for time'. This is not surprising given theories of the 'time squeeze'. However, identification of variables only offers insights into isolated causal effects and does little to explain how or why so many respondents reported feeling 'usually pressed for time'. Using interview data to help interpret the HALS findings, this paper identifies three mechanisms associated with the relationship between practices and time (volume, co-ordination and allocation), suggesting that 'harriedness' represents multiple experiences of time (substantive, temporal dis-organisation, and temporal density). In conclusion, it is argued that when investigating 'harriedness' it is necessary to recognise the different mechanisms that generate multiple experiences of time in order for analysis to move beyond one-dimensional interpretations of the 'time squeeze', and in order to account for the relationship between social practices and their conduct within temporalities (or the rhythms of daily life).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-239
Number of pages25
JournalSociological Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2005


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