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Geography Of Time

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  562 ratings  ·  72 reviews
Levine presents an illuminating portrait of time as a human construct, tracing its evolution through its history and exploring its various incarnations in cultures throughout the world.
Paperback, 258 pages
Published January 1st 2008 by ONEWorld Publications (first published May 31st 1997)
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I picked this up intrigued by the idea of time, how we conceptualize it, and how much or little we have (or think we have). We recurringly hear people decry our pace of life. We read of the way people in other countries and cultures treat their time differently than we do. The author covered these and other topics that I hadn't considered but found fascinating. Some of his points and conclusions are predictable, others are actually rather unexpected.

By the final pages the book had started to dra
The book was a pile of anecdotes that were neither systematic nor really detailed. Great, the author knows a lot about how people feel time but the examples, except the excerpts of his life which go way too long, are shallow and in some cases repeated. The writing itself is lackluster with excessive adjectives and reliance on both appeals to authority and appeals to conventional wisdom. I do not get the sense that this book is based on hard scientific work or comes from a hard scientist and this ...more
Very interesting book about different concepts of time. I liked the explanations of time in cultures that are so unlike the ones I have lived in, and the historical information about clocks was fascinating. The author introduced me to the difference between clock time and event time, which made me think about the way I manage my own time day to day.
Interesting in patches but, being honest, this tries to make a lot of what would be very interesting as just a long essay. A bit wearisome after you've read and got the main points the first time round.
A fascinating examination of the temporal cultures around the world. Levine strikes an amazing balance in describing the way different countries and sub-groups see the world, operating with a scientific rigor and deft touch in a subject that could easily shade into gross stereotypes. In the very fraught area of detailing the way poor American black populations deal with time, he lays out how poverty and exclusion drains one's ability to plan for the future, and how the cultural ramifications of ...more
Maybe more of 2 and a half. I diligently read it from cover to cover, even flipping to the bookmark I kept in the endnotes section. The topic itself is fascinating, the experiences of the author interesting, but somehow...somehow...the writing itself was just a titch more engaging than an academic paper in a peer-reviewed journal. I *think* that's what knocked it down this low for me, because I can't imagine any other reason. I will say that every time I opened it, I learned something, and almos ...more
I'm typically a sucker for pop science, so I was really excited to read the book. Unfortunately, I don't think Dr. Levine is a particularly good scientist or writer. First, his writing is pretty flat and sober. It doesn't help him that he doesn't seem to be drawing any fascinating conclusions either: Western Europe is fast and South/Central America are slow. Great. New York is fast and LA is laid back. Wow.

I also have a problem with his scientific rigor. He relies very heavily on anecdotal evide
I have never really traveled outside the country. I've been all over the U.S., and somewhat felt I had a grasp of the time differences people had - until I read this book. This book was, quite simply, a huge eye opener. The crux of the book is the idea of how each of us perceive time is very dependent upon the culture we live in. Robert takes a year, and travels the world to study all of this - and the outcome of his travels was a research topic about this.

A large distinction between countries i
May 28, 2012 Bruce rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: philosophy lovers and readers of Cosmo
Expectations are everything. I was very much looking forward to encountering an eminent social psychologist's lay-level summary and synthesis of over 30 years' empirical research about time. Among the questions I thought Levine would address were:

- How do people experience time?
- Why do they experience it as they do?
- Are the roots of this experience cultural, organic, or some combination of the two?
- What roles if any do geography, population, climate, etc. play on the experience of time?
- What
Not a bad exposition of the idea that different cultures and eras look at time in different ways. Levine can be a bit glib and shallow, and the later parts of the book go off into a cliched account of the need to slow down and smell the roses here in the U.S., but the idea that perceptions of time--- and its value ---are culturally-shaped is worth exploring. [See Pico Iyer's essay "Living on Muezzin Time" for thoughts on life in places where time is divided by events--- the calls to prayer ---ra ...more
Levine's book explores the way that different cultures perceive time and how that correlates to a variety of different facets of society. Levine's researchers measured time in 31 cities of varying sizes by timing how fast it took people to walk 60 feet and how long it took postal clerks to sell a stamp and make change. The researchers then compared those numbers to a wide variety of statistical measures to learn what effect the tempo of a place has on the lives of the people who live there. It's ...more
Susan Grodsky
I finished this book with a great feeling of relief. Done at last! I suppose I could have quit any time but there was just enough substance to keep me reading.

There are interesting concepts (clock time versus event time) and convincing bits of history (the railroads lobbied intensively for a few standard US time zones).

But there's a vast amount of padding and repetition. For example, the 26 page chapter on time and power could have been boiled down to 20 percent of its length.

There's also many
Val Delane
Very interesting! My take-aways: 1/ There is "event-driven" time (the human default) and "clock-driven" time (a comparatively recent development). 2/ Perception of time varies tremendously from culture to culture, from individual to individual, and even within the individual in different situations. 3/ Stress is caused not so much by a fast pace or a lack of time as by an inappropriate fit between the individual's temperament and their environment, or hard-driving competitiveness and hostility, ...more
So is this a lot like The Dance of Life: The Other Dimension of Time ? Listening to this (excellent) Radiolab podcast on Cities makes me want to read it, regardless. ...more
This was a fairly easy read that discussed differences in the ways that various cultures perceive time. This topic may sound dry, but the author manages to make it interesting. It is completely approachable for the masses. Any traveler should be aware of these differences and this book certainly would prepare a person to expect the unexpected.

However, I was somewhat disappointed that the book did not go into more depth, consisting in large part of anecdotes from the author's own experience as a
This book made me recognize and value different cultural incarnations of time--and even the differences in my sense of time, depending on context. I have always been accused of being pokey--this book made me want to own my pokiness. And appreciate it in others.
Juicy juicy juicy ideas. If you've ever had to readjust your personal clock in another country, or another culture, or another context, you probably have had a sense of what this guy is exploring. He proposes teaching Time Literacy along with language skills for visiting other countries. This, of course, offers abundant opportunities to learn about our own time sense - just as travel in a foreign land always teaches us more about ourselves than what we saw. He did a bunch of studies about time a ...more
We (at least in the west) tend to think of time as a fixed thing, but it's important to recognize that not all cultures treat time this way.

I would probably die in an event-based time culture, just fyi.
I love this book! It provides a great background of culture and how it affects travel, as well as an in depth analysis of intercultural notions of times and what they say about their cultures.
Samantha Watkins
Enjoying a bit of a self-conscious laugh at how long it took me to read this book about time. Which tells you that it's worth reading, but does not exactly demand your attention. :)

It's full of actual research and references as well as entertaining anecdotes, which is precisely what I'm looking for in "light" cross-cultural studies reading.

There weren't any major revelations in here, nor was it irresistible, which is why I gave it 3 stars instead of 4 - but I happily read it and finished it and
My obsession with time started when I read Zimbardo's "The Time Paradox" which I can safely say, was one of the most life changing books I've ever read. And I can never view "free time" the same again.

"An elegent gem" is what Zimbardo described this book. Having raised my expectations, I was fairly disappointed. It had bits and pieces of information and some not-so-fortunate experiences with different cultures that were sometimes funny, but not what I hoped for.

I loved the fact that he kept bri
I feel like I should have enjoyed this book more than I did. There were a lot of things that resonated with me, and I half expect that pieces of it will bubble up as time goes on. But I found myself (ironically) racing through it, and feel a little like the gist of the entire book was covered in the first section, with the rest being just expansions that didn't necessarily deepen my understanding any.

Nevertheless, it was a good reminder that I hope will stick with me a long time.
Greg Linster
Anyone who has travelled extensively understands that there are cultural nuances in foreign lands. In this book, the psychologist Robert Levine explains how "time" and our perception of it actually help to create these cultural nuances in the first place. Overall, Levine does a nice job of weaving the tale of his personal travel in with scientific findings. If you're anything like me, you'll think about "time" in a whole new way after reading this book.
Marissa Morrison
This book deals with how different cultures interact with time. The author set up an interesting series of tests (e.g. how long does it take to buy one postage stamp at a post office?) and repeated them in cities all over the world and within the United States. The happiest and most useful people balance being busy/keeping to a schedule with not feeling rushed or overwhelmed by how much they have to do in so little time.
Perhaps I should be kinder to this book. There are interesting things in here. And yet, when someone uses honor killings as his illustration for cultural relativity... no. Just no. When I want to illustrate that other cultures are different and our way is not the only/natural way? I go to food for examples. There's cultural relativity, and then there's moral relativity.
I only recently began thinking more intently about time. What is it, how it affects us, and how can we use it. This book did a incredible job at opening my eyes to new perspectives of time. How it is intrinsically tied to cultures and individual. How different perceptions of time can create different rights and wrongs of the same events. I learned a lot from this book.
Paulo O'Brien
Interesting study of how different cultures relate to time -- do they live by "event time" or "flow time." It's interesting to note how, in some cultures, "doing nothing is highly treasured and not seen as merely a break in the action, but as a productive and creative force." The concept of "hurry-sickness' and how we in the US are so afflicted is interesting too.
This book is a composite of lots of different time-topics, and a couple of them are really worth your time: his idea of event time vs clock time, his chapter detailing a time ethnography of Japan, and one on how time zones were standardized in the US. Totally cool. This book is low-maintenance and you can feel free to skip chapters at will.
Patrick Matte
Ce livre raconte le temps, un concept qui est fortement ancré dans nos vies ("le temps c'est de l'argent") mais qui est perçu de manière différente par d'autres peuples. C'est un petit bijou de "choc culturel" qui, au final, permet de mieux comprendre sa propre relation avec le temps. J'ai adoré et je recommande.
While some references are a little dated, the premise is universal and gives a fun look into how dominated our lives are by the clock by comparison to other cultures and how a little thinking outside the box can relieve you from what you might think is boredom or a hurried life. It'll stick with me, that's for sure.
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