PROGRESS IN GEOGRAPHY ›› 2022, Vol. 41 ›› Issue (1): 96-106.doi: 10.18306/dlkxjz.2022.01.009

• Special Column: Theories and Methods of Behavioral Geography • Previous Articles     Next Articles

The time geography response to the digital transition of everyday life

LI Chunjiang1(), ZHANG Yan2,3,*()   

  1. 1. College of Urban and Environmental Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China
    2. The Institute of Beijing Studies, Beijing Union University, Beijing 100191, China
    3. The Research Base for Beijing Studies, Beijing Union University, Beijing 100191, China
  • Received:2021-09-05 Revised:2021-11-26 Online:2022-01-28 Published:2022-03-28
  • Contact: ZHANG Yan;
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(42071203);National Natural Science Foundation of China(41771185);Beijing High-level Innovation and Entrepreneurship Talents Support Plan Youth Talent Project(2017000026833ZK15)


The information and communication technologies (ICTs) have made great impact on everyday life. However, there are few publications reviewing the relationship between ICTs and the digital transition of everyday life. In addition, little attention has been paid to the analysis of the theoretical progress and mechanism. Time geography timely responds to the digital transition of everyday life. This article reviewed the basic characteristics of digital transition of everyday life, including fragmentation, multitasking, and space-time displacement. Such empirical studies are usually inconclusive–one of the reasons is that they try to answer whether and how ICTs have changed everyday life while neglecting the underlying mechanism. The recent progress of time geography has provided a great theoretical base and analytical and descriptive tool to the digital transition of everyday life. First, the theories and concepts of the classical time geography have been extended to applied to the behavior in virtual space. It is found that space-time decoupling and the relaxation of space-time constraints are the underlying mechanism of the digital transition of everyday life. Second, visualization and analysis tools based on GIS have also been developed to visualize and analyze the hybrid physical-virtual space behavior. However, the intrinsic absolute space and time of GIS is inadaptive to the basic characteristics of the digital transition of everyday life. The decoupling has dissolved the one-by-one relationships between space-time position and activity, and fragmentation and multitasking have made the before-and-afterness as well as the side-by-sidedness more important than the absolute position in space and time. Therefore, third, the visualization of the complex activity contexts of new time geography can jump out of the three-dimensional visualization framework based on GIS, and demonstrate the fragmentation, multitasking, space-time displacement, and the complex relationships between online and offline activities of the daily activities in the hybrid physical-virtual space. Besides, the concepts of foreground and background activity, mediated bundle, and pockets of mediated order have been proposed, which are powerful in understanding the transition of everyday life under the impact of mobile ICTs. We finally proposed a time geography analytical framework of the digital transition of everyday life with the core of physical-virtual hybrid activity system. The digital transition of everyday life will be the important direction of space-time behavior in the future information society. We also discussed future research topics including digital life, smart society, and safe city.

Key words: everyday life, space-time behavior, digital transition, time geography, information and communication technologies (ICTs)