The current paradigm of time in the marketing literature is one where time is linear, quantifiable and predominantly chronological in nature. This is merely one construct of one aspect of time and a construct that is largely specific to a western, industrialized society. The associated theory of time allocation assumes individuals seek to compress time‐consuming activities. Time compression and the speeding‐up of activities are a current feature of both consumer and industrial marketing. Discusses other constructs of time, drawn from the fields of sociology, psychology and anthropology. Time is two concepts, duration and succession. Time can be cyclical rather than linear and is seen as such within concepts such as the product life cycle. It can also be episodic, as in the celebration of events. Questions whether time is ever truly linear, as our perception of duration varies with the content of the activities that fill that duration. This suggests an alternative to time compression, to fill empty time so as to make duration appear faster. Discusses the limitations of current theory and concepts. Suggests a relativistic approach of describing or scoping time‐consuming activities as an alternative towards developing a more universal understanding of time allocation. Argues that progress is needed in the area to meet the needs of a society where time in general and leisure time in particular are ever more significant.
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