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Johan Goudsblom: The Worm and the Clock: On the Genesis of a Global Time Regime. [Abstract]

The spread of a unitary time grid over the whole world is a remarkable aspect of globalisation. Time is not a natural given; as suggested by Norbert Elias, it is a means, devised by humans, for comparing processes of various speed and duration. As such, it is function of “timing” – an activity which is inherently place-bound. Four phases can be distinguished in the development leading up to universal global timing. In Phase 1 there are no instruments for dividing the day into clearcut intervals such as hours. Phase 2 brings various instruments such as sundials and waterclocks with which the day is divided into 24 hours of unequal length. In Phase 3 the mechanical clock makes standardisation of the hour possible. In Phase 4 the world is divided into 24 time zones, with a synchronised schedule of hours, minutes and seconds spread globally as an invisible net.

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