The Time of Materiality

Estrid Sørensen


While time and space form a classic duality in social science, this article demonstrates a perspective on time, space and materiality as a core trinity. As a prominent figure in contemporary discussions on materiality in the social sciences Science and Technology Studies (STS) emphasizes relational approaches. STS however lacks a clear relational definition of materiality and tends instead to focus on the agency of entities, on for instance material agency. The article suggests a relational definition of materiality and notes that this move implies turning the question of the time of materiality into an empirical question. It is argued that relational materiality must be studied spatially, and thus a spatial approach describing patterns of relations is presented. Based on field work in a primary school classroom and computer lab, three materials are analyzed: the blackboard, a bed-loft and an online 3D virtual environment. The empirical descriptions depict three different materialities, and it is shown how time is formed differently in each of them. Time, it is argued, is an emergent and characterizing aspect of materialities as spatial formations. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs070122


materiality; time; spatial analysis; STS; actor-network theory; learning technology; primary school

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Copyright (c) 2007 Estrid Sørensen

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