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Understandings of temporality and of progress provide information on time scales, imaginations of transience and eternity, and the reproduction of social structure. Time in the liberal view moves linearly toward a future of progress, and it presumes that rational actors optimally allocate time to market and non-market activities.

RU Temporality poses three questions:

1. Which contestations are related to temporality?

Among the time-related challenges to the liberal script is the fact that capitalist markets and democracy tend to favour short-term rewards over long-term investment. Similarly, the speed of global financial markets contrasts with the slower process of political decision-making. In essence, liberal temporality has been contested as a foreign cultural imposition that emphasizes endless material progress and monetary wealth at the expense of sustainable development and of different regional and cultural temporal perspectives.

2. Which temporal-related causes drive contestations?

Causes include tension between future-oriented values against present-oriented norms. For instance, an individual’s time spent with work, family and leisure is subordinated to that of the capitalist market. Moreover, technology’s added efficiency, a product of the liberal script, comes at the expense of employment availability, which in turn produces contestation of liberal capitalism. RU Temporality will elaborate on the interplay of different factors contributing to such contestations.

3. How do time-related contestations impact the liberal order?

The mentioned contestations can alter how individuals use leisure and work time or engage in social relations. They also uncover the lack of synchronization between technological, entrepreneurial and regulatory development. Yet above all, contestations of the liberal time script allow us to critically review debates on economic and ecological sustainability.

With its focus on alternative notions of time and temporal horizons, RU Temporality relates to sustainable development as one of the global challenges of the 21st century. While challengers assume that the linear view of progress over time is no longer tenable, sustainable development also contains a narrative hope. It suggests that solutions (technological, but also institutional and behavioural ones) can be found to overcome the challenges of climate change, ecological degradation, and loss of biodiversity.