This thesis argues that Quakers (members of the Religious Society of Friends) create their own ‘temporal collages’ through which they balance the competing demands on their time. In order to capture the varied qualities of Quaker time, the author portrays it as ‘polychronic’ (multidimensional), rather than ‘monochronic’ (linear). Polychronic time encompasses the paradoxical, cyclical and interconnected nature of Quaker time, and includes both linear ‘clock time’ and the timeless spiritual dimension that imbues all aspects of Quaker life. The thesis begins, therefore, by considering the transformations in the nature of work, the family and the community in the late 20th and early 21st centuries, and their impact on the perception of time. The author demonstrates how social bonds formed in the Quaker community help its members negotiate these changes. Friendships are created and nurtured through participation in the dense network of interlinked communities that make up the structure of the Society. Quakers choose to which of these communities they belong, as well as the level of their involvement and the amount of time they dedicate to ‘service’ (unpaid work) to the Society and voluntary work in the wider world. In the process, they construct ‘polychronic temporal collages’ – which reflect the interpenetration of time and spirituality – as a way of managing their time in a complex, changing environment.

Key themes:
The effects of social and cultural changes on the perception of time
The Society of Friends as a ‘networked community’ in which social capital is nurtured and decisions about time negotiated

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