Book Review: The Law of Social Time

25 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2016

See all articles by Orly Lobel

Orly Lobel

University of San Diego School of Law

Date Written: 2003


Is time natural or constructed? Are the rhythms of life mediated by law? Is it possible for a society to deregulate time? In this book review of Todd Rakoff’s A Time for Every Purpose: Law and the Balance of Life, Orly Lobel situates the book within the wider context of the “law and time” field of law. The review article explores the different facets of time which mediate conflicts between social institutions. In particular, the review article focuses on the work and family tensions that have accelerated in recent years. The review article argues that not only the temporal boundaries, but also the spatial and conceptual boundaries between work or commercial time and private time are themselves subject to contestation. The review suggests that A Time for Every Purpose does not adequately recognize the complexity of the civil society concept as it emerges in recent academic debates. The omission of these debates obscures the tensions between progressive visions and conservative agendas, both of which argue for civil society revivalism to advance rival policies. The review suggests that it would be helpful to explicitly consider time as a site of contestation and struggle among differently situated social groups, rather than conflicts among institutions.

Keywords: time, law and time, work life balance, temporal boundaries, spatial boundaries, social capital,

JEL Classification: A00, A10, K31

Suggested Citation

Lobel, Orly, Book Review: The Law of Social Time (2003). Temple Law Review, Vol. 76, No. 2, 2003; San Diego Legal Studies Paper. Available at SSRN:

Orly Lobel (Contact Author)

University of San Diego School of Law ( email )

5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
United States


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