Critical Concepts in M-Health Technology Development: Time, Space, and Mobility

Critical Concepts in M-Health Technology Development: Time, Space, and Mobility

Henrique M. G. Martins (University of Beira Interior, Portugal)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0888-7.ch006


This chapter is a theoretical in-depth review of three conceptual groups that serve as the fundamental basis for m-health technology development—both at hardware and software levels—as well as for technology adaptation to work/life practices, and for adoption and usage studies. Objectively the review will focus on the concepts of Time (clock, event, practice-based, and timeless time), experiences of time (subjective construction of the “past,” “present,” and “future,” time aggregation/“episodification” frequency, rhythm, cycles, “spiraling,” and mono-polichronicity), space, and mobility (namely physical mobility, remote versus local, modalities of travelling/visiting/ wandering, micro-mobility).
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Concepts Of Time

The concept of time has not been stable though history as Lee and Liebenau (1999) describe. Time has also been studied in a variety of disciplines from mathematics, biology and psychology to anthropology and sociology (Orlikowski & Yates, 2002) as well as management and organizations (Bluedorn & Denhardt, 1988). There are several conceptualisations of time in the literature that are seen as shaping the way in which work, and more broadly all human activities, can be understood (George & Jones, 2000; Orlikowski & Yates, 2002). How we conceptualise time may in turn have implications for how we use other conceptual models, like those of space, mobility and even participants: be they individuals, groups or communities (George & Jones, 2000). This section does not aspire to be an exhaustive review of the time literature but rather summarizes concepts of time and temporalities that have been claimed to be particularly related and relevant to the analysis of work and organizations.

“Clock-time” and “event time”: Probably the most discussed division in conceptualisations of time is that of clock time against social or event time in its broadest sense. Several authors have written about clock time and event time (Bluedorn & Denhardt, 1988; Lee & Liebenau, 1999). A commonly held description of clock-time is provided by Lee who mentions clock-time is often conceptualised as “homogeneous and divisible in structure, linear and uniform in its flow, objective and absolute, that is, existing independent of objects and events, measurable (or quantifiable), and as singular” (Lee & Liebenau, 1999), thus, there would be one, and only one, “correct time.” This conceptualisation has been dominant in contemporary society and derives more from the natural sciences than from sociological concerns. It has, however, a strong relation with two aspects in management and organization analysis. It relates with the notion of time as a resource—the “time is money” metaphor—which means time can be spent, saved, wasted, possessed, budgeted, used up and invested. People often understand time in financial terms in everyday life. In addition, due to the work of Marx and others, this conceptualisation explains the close relationship between time and productivity.

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