The Political Value of Time: Citizenship, Duration, and Democratic Justice (Cambridge University Press, 2018), Elizabeth F. Cohen’s new book, explores the concept of time, which is both temporal and theoretical, and how time has been integrated into so many aspects of democratic life. Cohen argues that this complex idea has become a form of boundaries that we, as citizens, rarely think about even as we come up against them. This is part of the overall arc of Cohen’s book, where she delves into the actual political value that has been allocated to time, in such forms as waiting periods, carceral sentences, naturalization processes, curfews, and governmental deadlines. Our lives and our understanding of the structures and processes of government are often arranged through allocations or allotments of time that we rarely question or consider. We have, in fact, given time, or spans of time, particular forms of political power because these allocations govern aspects of our lives.
This is an important book that explores and examines the role of time in democratic life and in regard to the rights and capacities of citizenship. Cohen clearly explains what she means by durational time and how it works within our understanding of civic life. This book will appeal to a broad range of scholars across disciplinary boundaries, including political theorists, sociologists, philosophers, economists, policy experts, and citizens.
Lilly J. Goren is professor of political science at Carroll University in Waukesha, WI.