Translating the Distant into the Present: How Address Distant Past and Future Events through Situated Activity

Tor Hernes*, Majken Schultz

*Corresponding author for this work

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Situated views demonstrate how ongoing activity is both framed by temporal structures and serves to reproduce those same structures. Yet, recent research on temporality shows that addressing distant events enables actors to reflect on and eventually transform the temporal structures that frame their ongoing activity. We develop a theoretical framework of how actors address distant events through situated activity in organizations in three steps. First, we discuss the notion of situated temporality to describe how actors go beyond, and potentially transform, the temporal structures within which they operate as they address distant events through situated activity. Second, we introduce the concepts of singular and exemplary events to show how distant pasts and futures comprise different combinations of events. Third, we discuss how certain areas of organization studies that advocate a situated view, notably practices, routines and materiality, may benefit from a situated temporal view. At the paper’s conclusion we suggest the concept of ‘temporal translation’ to describe the process of how actors may combine different temporalities through situated activity.
Original languageEnglish
JournalOrganization Theory
Issue number1
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Distant events
  • Temporal structures
  • Practice theory
  • Routines
  • Materiality
  • Process theories
  • Structuration
  • Temporal translation
  • Time
  • Situated views

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