To ensure coherence and connectivity between the research areas, all case studies of TIMEJ operate with the same methodological framework. The research design is based on the theory of symbolic forms, first formulated by Ernst Cassirer (1923–1927) in the 1920s, and recently critically reviewed and revised by the P.I. Raji C. Steineck. We combine this top-down approach with a bottom-up analysis that incorporates various time theories by Western and Japanese scholars. From these theories, the TIMEJ team jointly derives a comprehensive methodology that allows for the systematic detection of expressions of temporality in primary sources. Specifically, we are investigating temporality on three distinct analytical levels: measurement and recording (chronography), temporal regulations and timing of activities (chronopolicy), and the conceptualization and aesthetisation of time (chrononoetics and chronopoetics). This bottom-up analysis aims to create a well-structured matrix of data that can be used as evidence in testing the theory-based inferences drawn from the top-down approach.


Theory of Symbolic Forms

A general philosophy of culture presented in Ernst Cassirer’s most famous work Philosophy of Symbolic Forms (1923-1929).It was further developed and revised by Raji Steineck in Kritik der Symbolischen Formen (“Critique of Symbolic Forms”, 2014-2017).



A consideration of various techniques and forms of recording, measuring and expressing time. We mainly build on Roland Harweg’s typological classification from his work Zeit in Mythos and Geschichte (“Time in myth and history”, 2008-2009) but have expanded the typology to include other modes of expression as well.


A consideration of the social meaning of time and so called “time regimes”. We take into account Günter Dux’ idea of the “logic of action” as organizing principle of temporality and are guided by questions formulated by Eviatar Zerubavel in various articles.

Chrononoetics and Chronopoetics

A consideration of the conceptualisation and aestheticisation of time. In addition to the theory of symbolic forms, Maki Yūsuke’s work Jikan no hikaku shakaigaku 時間の比較社会学 (“Comparative sociology of time”, 2003) greatly inspired this analysis, as well as various literary theories that reflect on temporality.