Call for Papers Special Issue "Challenging Times—Qualitative Methods and Methodological Approaches to Research on Time"

Guest Editors

Elisabeth Schilling (University of Applied Administrative Sciences NRW), Alexandra König (University Duisburg-Essen), Maggie O'Neill (University of York).


Time is a concept, which is of interest to a range of different disciplines. In the social sciences time is primarily seen as a social phenomenon or as an element of the social order (BURZAN & SCHÖNECK, 2014; ELIAS, 1992; SCHILLING, 2005). However, the perspectives on time in the social sciences are rather heterogeneous as has been already discussed, e.g. in the FQS special issue on "Time and Discourse" (HANNKEN-ILLJES, KOZIN & SCHEFFER, 2007). Changes in social time relations (ROSA, 2015), time as an instrument of control and power (DELEUZE, 1995; FOUCAULT, 1972, 1975, 1982) and the interdependence of the structures of time and economy (BOURDIEU, 1977) are being discussed on the macro level. There are also a number of studies investigating time practices, subjective time perception and time projections (CARMO, CANTANTE & DE ALMEIDA ALVES, 2014; SCHILLING & KOZIN, 2009) as well as their correlations with certain resources (DRESSEL & LANGREITER, 2008; KÖLBL & STRAUB, 2001; MÜNCH, 2014; ZIMBARDO & BOYD, 2008) on the micro level. Numerous publications in the area of biographical research (LUTZ, SCHIEBEL & TUIDER, 2018; ROBERTS, 2011; ROSENTHAL & BOGNER, 2017) are focused on the meaning of time-related life practices (e.g., specific to a particular social class or cross-generational biographical family patterns), defining biographies as "communicative structuring (...), which use and produce social and individual time" (FISCHER, 2018, p.461, our translation). Changes in time practices have been observed in particular with regard to family life and gender-related inequalities (HEITKÖTTER, JURCZYK, LANGE & MEIER-GRÄWE, 2009; WINGARD, 2007). Furthermore, there is plenty of social research on time in institutions, for example on time spent in the educational system (KING, 2017), the time structures in teaching at school (RABENSTEIN, 2018), the rigid time regime of curricula at universities (LIAO et al., 2013) and changing time structures (O'NEILL, 2014; ROSA, 2015; VOSTAL, 2016). The questions of acceleration, intensification of work in academia and the critical engagement with the problem of slowing down were discussed, e.g., in the FQS special issue on "The Slow University" (O'Neill, Martell, Mendick & Müller, 2014).

Student boredom during lessons (BREIDENSTEIN, 2006) as well as the length of time invested in studies (PIPKIN, 1982) are also time-related matters.

The diversity of qualitative methods and methodological approaches to research on time reflects the thematic breadth within this research field. The planned special issue aims to pool these diverse approaches and discuss their potentials. The following points are possible topics for article submissions:

  • Which social theories are useful when researching time?
  • How is time documented in observation protocols, interviews or non-verbal data? How is time constructed in different types of research?
  • On which implicit theories of time are classical studies based?
  • How can we analyze changes in social time structures and people's perception of time?
  • How can we investigate time as an instrument of power?
  • What are appropriate methods of investigating time-related orientations and time experience?
  • Are biographical and creative methods useful when researching time, for example in accelerated academia?
  • How can we conceptually and empirically explore the nexus of institutional time orders and individual time experience?
  • How can we use time as an indicator of social inequality?
  • What is the potential of longitudinal studies in order to investigate questions on time?

We welcome methodological reflections on the indicated and related questions on qualitative time research. You can also submit short field reports, which reflect methodological questions on time and the practical handling of it. Scientists who have not yet worked explicitly on time-related questions are welcome to reflect their field and their research regarding time and its relevance.

Publication Process

All abstracts can be submitted in English and/or German. The review process includes the following steps:

  1. Abstracts of approximately 200 words should be submitted by the 1st of October 2018. They should be sent to the guest editors:, and
  2. All abstracts will be peer reviewed with decisions on acceptance to be made by the guest editors within one month (November 1, 2018).
  3. In the case of acceptance, the authors will be invited to submit a full paper (March 1, 2019).
  4. All submitted papers will be subject to a double-blinded peer review process.
  5. The publication of the special issue is planned in January 2020.

The special issue builds on discussions within the research network group "Being young—growing older: changing time concepts", which has been funded by the German Research Foundation since 2017. A final conference is planned for 2020, which provides the opportunity to discuss the articles from this FQS special issue with their respective authors.

Author Guidelines

Abstracts and contributions (including "Reports From the Shopfloor"), should follow the FQS guidelines for authors (


Please submit your abstract and send any questions you may have to Elisabeth Schilling (, Alexandra König ( and


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