Time as a Commodity
Time is an indiscernible part of human existence, interwoven with human institutions, in Polanyi’s terms, human and nature. Measuring time according to the observed patterns of the rhythm of the environment defines human interactions. Traditionally cycles in nature define our culture, that since the vast urbanization and industrialization has changed. The division of labour time and time spent apart from labour has gained value. How we use our time became a subject to consumption patterns (see Veblen and the leisure class on the matter) since modernity. Time use patterns can be influenced by social class, culture, and other external mechanisms such as regulations, time-work-housework balance, and so forth. The time spent on productive work or on labour is perceived – is the matter of externally constructed patterns, that have incorporated into our productivity-driven culture of time-deficit.
Time bears symbolic meanings–the vision of the future/past–deployed in constructing narratives around commodities. The abundance of the time spent on browsing and digesting digital content stand in sharp edge with the actual scarcity of the time as we perceive it. How we consume the vision of time itself–such as a story constructed on social media by users, is being consumed with hunger–the time of the past and the time of the present are at conflict.
Although time-use differs across different social groups in society (Wajcman 2015), there is a competition in gaining the user’s attention–a scarce resource, that advertisements and embedded content are competing for. In the attention deficit economy the agents have a limited attention span: a scarce resource to be deployed. ‘Free content’ is not a public good– users pay with their attention that companies economize on. Business models are placing out the costs of the attention taken from the users by providing ad-free space for a pay. Users pay for not being ripped off their attention: a scarce resource, deployed and consumed by ads. This latter process puts it straightforward that our personal digital space is a pervert commodity: one needs to pay to de-commodify it – a rent to be paid to freed attention. Attention, thus is seen as a resource to be commodified. (From the 'New Ficticious Commodities' - Julianna Faludi)
Wajcman, Judy (2015). Pressed for Time, the Acceleration of Time in Digital Capitalism. The University of Chicago Press, 224.p.
Julianna Faludi PhD is a sociologist and writer. She is interested in the relationship of technology, society and the arts, and ethical consumption. Her background is in economic sociology, development studies, and humanities. As a professor she has a track record in lecturing courses in Innovation, Branding, the Arts, Russia studies, and Sociology. Beforehand she worked with regional development in different roles. Julianna has experience in broadcasting, giving talks, and writing. She masters several languages, Russian, Italian, English, French and Hungarian.
Julianna Faludi All rights reserved. You may not take images or content or replicate any of the content from this site without written permission.udi juliann