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Social Being and Time

ISBN: 978-0-631-19023-3
232 pages
January 1994, Wiley-Blackwell
Social Being and Time (0631190236) cover image
The nature of time is one of the continuing mysteries of human life. This is of particular relevance to archaeology with its unique focus on the social development of the human species from its origins to the present.

Christopher Gosden probes the way in which the rhythms of social life derive from our involvement in the world, particularly as those rhythms unfold over many thousands of years. The author argues that time is created through the social use of material things such as landscapes, settlements and monuments, and illustrates this with case studies drawn from Europe and the Pacific.

The book provides a theory of social change and social being as the basis for understanding social formations over long periods of time. In developing this theory the author surveys ideas on human action and time as these have evolved over the last two centuries. Although the theory is designed and presented here to be of practical use in interpreting archaeological data - exemplified here in case studies - the broad scope of the book will ensure its interest to all concerned with the interactions between people and the material world.

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1. About Time.

2. Understanding Long-Term Social Change.

3. Meaning, Mind and Matter.

4. Towards a Social Ontology.

5. Concepts of Being.

6. Problems of History and Meaning.

7. Species Being: The Very Long Term.

8. Final Thoughts.

Further Reading.

Bibliography.

Index.
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Christopher Gosden researched Iron Age pottery production and exchange in central Europe before moving to the Australian National University as a Visiting Fellow in 1984, when he began a seven-year research project in Papua New Guinea. He is currently Lecturer in Archaeology at La Trobe University, and involved with a programme of research into the material culture of the Neolithic in Turkmenia.
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* Links social theory to material culture.
* Theoretical and practical perspectives on the formation of societies over very long time spans.
* The first articulation of the modern philosophy of time specificallly for archaeologists and anthropologists.
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