Social Meaning of Time in a Family with Children (a Case Study of Large Families)




family time, large families, work-life balance, social time, multiple times


A considerable portion of studies devoted to time is conducted in terms of the “resource” logics: time is perceived as a limited resource which can be allocated to different activities.  In this paper the author attempts to examine an alternative approach to study time: time is defined by its social meanings. The article is based on an analysis of in-depth interviews with parents from large families carried out in Moscow, Archangelsk and Vladimir. The focus of the study is determined by the family life specifics: families with children especially suffer from poor work-life balance as each family member is in search of an equilibrium of interests. Based on the data analysis the author singles out three types of social time in the family (institutional, gender and interpersonal time) and a concept of “discourse of time”. Institutional time refers to a change in family temporality influenced by external factors. These factors involve the work of public institutions and ethical norms. Gender time is related to male and female differences within the family, taking into account that the quantitative involvement of men and women in household activities does not imply qualitative differences. Interpersonal time is a summary of ways to organize time in order to establish interpersonal communication within the family, in other words, to create an environment for joint pastime (family time), communication between parents without children (parental time) and with each child separately (child’s individual time), and self-time. The discourse of time concept reflects how and what people tell about time. Many large families prioritize planning, often as a way to find time for interpersonal communication. The obtained results give credibility to the possibility of considering family life in terms of social meanings of time.

Acknowledgement. The study is funded by Russian Science Foundation (project no. 18-78-10089). The project is implemented by St. Tikhon's Orthodox University.

Author Biography

Mariia A. Goleva, St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University

  • St. Tikhon’s Orthodox University, Moscow, Russia
    • Junior Research Fellow, “Sociology of Religion” Research Laboratory