The Time of Materiality


  • Estrid Sørensen Ruhr-Universität Bochum



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


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


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Author Biography

Estrid Sørensen, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Estrid SØRENSEN has a MA in Social Psychology and a Ph.D. from the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Copenhagen. She is currently post.doc at the Technische Universität Berlin. Dr. SØRENSEN's main focus lies in studies of science and technology with a central interest in the study of materiality. Empirically she has worked with technology in primary school and children's use of media in general. Currently, Estrid SØRENSEN studies the materiality of governance in a study of the regulation of children's access to media.




How to Cite

Sørensen, E. (2007). The Time of Materiality. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 8(1).



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