The idea that several “social times” coexist is an intellectual notion with a long history. Man’s activities take place in different settings and in different walks of life. Each of these imposes its own different constraints on the way in which time is organised and used. What then is one to make of the human desire to lead one coherent life when one is faced with these different and partially incompatible visions of time?
This contribution conveys the idea that the highly problematic challenge of how to reconcile these different ideas of time has to be placed in a new setting, that of the working environment. We suggest posing the problem anew as an enigma to be resolved through a constant series of essentially unnoticed trade-offs within what we refer to as an “ergologique” period. In so doing the problem of the congruence of different times particularly those imposed by the work environment and those derived from the other two poles of our modern society, the market and politics, can be placed in a new framework.
Yet the three poles of modern societies solicit, determine and are influenced by that particular working activity which is science. In parts three to five of this text three “time values” are defined. How do these three concepts of time influence the notion of time involved in scientific activity and how does the latter maintain its “time to maturity” despite these influences?
Our view is that all these dimensions have to be incorporated if we are to pose the problem of the concordance and discordance of different social times correctly.