What does the duration of belonging tell us about the temporal self?

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Belonging is a fundamentally temporal experience, yet there exists to date little research on belonging as a temporal phenomenon. This paper offers an important contribution to the literatures on belonging, time and the self by exploring how the experience of belonging is tethered to time. Focussing on the temporal dimensions of the interconnection between belonging and the self contributes to our understanding of how people experience time and construct a sense of self. The data comprise 62 accounts on belonging written by members of the Mass Observation Project’s panel of volunteer writers residing in Great Britain. Two dimensions of duration are explored: first, enduring belonging compared to fleeting belonging and second, belonging that endures ‘out of time’. In relation to the first dimension I argue that the duration of belonging aids in constructing a coherent self over time and thus speaks to a person’s moral character. The second dimension of duration illustrates experiences of belonging that defy understandings of linear temporality and a singular self, thus demonstrating the fundamentally distributed nature of the self. Attending to the duration of belonging also adds to our empirical understanding of how time is experienced by people
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)634-651
Number of pages18
JournalTime and Society
Issue number3
Early online date22 Jul 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


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