Time use research

Time use research

Time use research is a developing interdisciplinary field of study dedicated to knowing how people allocate their time during an average day.__TOC__

The comprehensive approach to time use research addresses a wide array of political, economic, social, and cultural issues through the use of time use surveys. Surveys provide geographic data and time diaries that volunteers record using GPS technology and time diaries. Time use research investigates human activity inside and outside the paid economy. It also looks at how these activities change over time.

Time use research is not to be confused with time management. Time use research is a social science interested in human behavioural patterns and seeks to build a body of knowledge to benefit a wide array of disciplines interested in how people use their time. Time management is an approach to time allocation with a specific managerial purpose aimed at increasing the efficiency or effectiveness of a given process.

Questions relating to time use research arise in most professional and academic disciplines, notably:

:*urban planning and urban design (how does community design impact peoples’ use of time?):*transportation planning (what groups use active transportation and public transit?):*social work (how do people maintain social relationships and who is more likely to spend time alone?):*recreation and active living (which groups are more physically active?):*information technology (what role does information technology play in peoples’ daily lives?):*feminist economics (how does non-market work affect gender inequality and economic well-beings in our society?)

Categories of time

Time-use researcher Dagfinn Aas classifies time into four meaningful categories: contracted time, committed time, necessary time, and free time.

Contracted time

Contracted time refers to the time a person allocates toward an agreement to work orstudy. When a person is using contracted time to commute this person understands thatthis travel time is directly related to paid work or study and any break in this commutetime directly affects job or school-related performance.

Committed time

Committed time, like contracted time, takes priority over necessary and free time becauseit is viewed as productive work. It refers to the time allocated to maintain a home andfamily. When a person is commuting using committed time this person may feel that thecommute is a duty to family such as walking children to school or driving a spouse towork. Contracted and committed time users may feel that their commute is more important thanthe commute of necessary or free time users because their commute is productive work.Therefore, they may be more inclined to choose a motorized mode of travel.

Necessary time

Necessary time refers to the time required to maintain one’s self as it applies to activitiessuch as eating, sleeping, and cleansing and to a large extent exercising. People whocommute using necessary time may feel that the commute is an important activity forpersonal well-being and may also take into account the well-being of the natural andsocial environment. The person commuting in necessary time may be more inclined tochoose an active mode of transportation for personal reasons that include exercise on topof transportation.

In general, necessary time usually constitutes the majority of people’s time since sleepingis factored into this category.

Free time

Free time refers to the remains of the day after the three other types of time have beensubtracted from the 24 hour day. This type of time is not necessarily discretionary timeas the term “free” time may imply because people tend to plan activities in advance andcreating committed free time in lieu of discretionary time. People who commute usingfree time are more apt to view the commute as a recreational activity. Commuting in freetime provides the greatest gains for social capital because the person commuting in freetime is more likely to slow down or stop the commute at his discretion to undertakeanother activity or engage in social interaction. He may also view the commute as part ofhis destination activity to which he has gladly committed his free time.

External links

* [http://www.smu.ca/partners/iatur/ International Association for Time Use Research]
* [http://www.smu.ca/partners/iatur/index1.htm Saint Mary's University - Time Use Research Program]
* [http://www.timeuse.org/ University of Oxford - Centre for Time Use Research]

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