Culture and Time

Term Paper, 2012

12 Pages, Grade: 1,4


I Table of Content

1. Introduction

2. What is culture?

3. What is time?

4. Different types of organising time
4.1 monochronic or polychronic
4.2 time orientation

5. Discussion

6. Conclusion

II References

1. Introduction

The topic “Culture and Time” is really interesting because the question comes up what is culture? It is hard to define it by yourself and there are a lot of different explanations available. But it is clear for everybody that there are differences between cultures even when we do not know which one. Because nearly everybody met somebody from another culture who behaved in a strange way or you thought that they behaved in such a way. Even when you did not met somebody you are aware of such differences because of the media. But why do we feel so? What are the reasons behind it? Furthermore how can we be able to detect such reasons or misunderstandings? And how can we avoid or react?

There are a lot of parts of culture which differ. In this paper we want to talk about the aspect of time. So first of all what is time? How do we feel time? And how do we handle it? It is clear that there are cultures which are more affected by natural influences and some which are a more affected in a technical way (Hall 1990, p. 9). From this it follows that there is more behind the term “Time” than we think about in the first moment.

2. What is culture?

According to one of the definitions of culture from an online dictionary, culture means “the quality in a person or society that arises from a concern for what is regarded as excellent in arts, letters, manners, scholarly pursuits, etc.” (Anonymous 2009). Another definition is that culture is “a particular form or stage of civilization, as that of a certainnation or period” (Anonymous 2009).

Of course there are a lot of different definitions of culture, because it is a complex and difficult term used in different contexts. As basis for this paper culture is used according to Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner (1997, p. 22). These authors think about culture like an onion as you can see in Fehler! Verweisquelle konnte nicht gefunden werden..

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Figure 1: model of culture according to Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997, p. 22

outer layer contains artifacts and other cultural products, also mentioned as explicit products. Explicit products are the things which “catches your attention first” like language, nutrition habitats, architecture, fashion and more (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997, p. 21). The second layer “Norms and values” reflect the deep-rooted attributes of cultures. Norms defines the difference between “right” and “wrong” and it is often developed on a formal level as social control (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997, p. 21f.). In contrast to it values show you the relation between “good” and “bad”. So values have a strong influence on the ideals of a group. In the best case “the norms reflect the values of a group” (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997, p. 22). The core comprehends the basic assumptions about existence of life. It includes the ways of survival depending on certain environmental situations and is solved automatically (e.g. to breath). To indicate basic assumptions you have to ask “questions [which] provokes confusion or irritation” e.g. why do you breath? (Trompenaars and Hampden-Turner 1997, p.23).

3. What is time?

First of all it is necessary to mention that human beings have a biological time. It evolved because of environmental influences like day and night cycles, temperature changes, ebb-flow rhythm and other. Depending on these “forces and rhythms of nature” humans created their concepts of time (Hall and Hall 1990, p. 13).

Generally there are two time concepts, one of them express the biological time which is important to put our physiological functions (like sleeping) in a certain order. The second time concepts depend on solar, lunar and annual cycles (Hall and Hall 1990, p. 13) which have been used to create different types of calendars ( e.g. civil and religious calendars) (Hall 1984, p.78).

Of course when we as Germans think about time we will think first about seconds, minutes and hours, time as a straight line of discrete events. But this view is not the only one. Another idea of it would be time as a circle. It means that everything is repeating (minutes of the hour, hours of the day etc.) (Trompenaars and Hampden- Turner 1997, p.120).

4. Different types of organising time

First of all it should be mentioned that there are different attitudes to time which influence our sense and handling of it. The following subchapters will describe some of the most important attitudes to time.

4.1 monochronic or polychronic

According to Hall there are two behaviour patterns, monochronic and polychronic time, which do not mix. However he said that “there are tight and loose versions of each” (1984, p. 55).

First of all a huge difference between the patterns is the way of scheduling time. Monochronic cultures schedule events as separate segments like doing one thing at a time.


Excerpt out of 12 pages


Culture and Time
University of Kassel
Changing Societies
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
502 KB
International, Culture, Time, Society, Societies, Communication, Difference, Kultur, Zeit, Kommunikation, monochrom, polychrom
Quote paper
B. Sc. Oecotrophologie Steffi Gensel (Author), 2012, Culture and Time, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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