Fleck Prize 2017: Judy Wajcman

The Fleck Prize committee is delighted to award Judy Wajcman the 2017 Ludwik Fleck Prize for her book Pressed for Time: The Acceleration of Life in Digital Capitalism (Chicago, 2015). The Fleck Prize recognizes an outstanding book in the area of science and technology studies.

Pressed for Time addresses the construction of time, challenging commonplace myths about work, leisure, and digital technologies. Against the technological determinism implied in the idea that smartphones and email are speeding up the pace of life and reducing leisure time, Wajcman carefully examines the mutual shaping of temporal rhythms and digital technologies that underlie everyday lives in global societies. The committee was deeply impressed with the way that Wajcman built her argument, seamlessly blending theories of modernity and social acceleration with much empirical research on issues of time-use, housework, and family life.

The book is an exemplary model of research that considers the social shaping of technologies, setting a new standard for research that will enhance our conceptual understanding of the complex relationship of time and technology in contemporary life. Wajcman insists on attention to diversity and intersectionality, showing how gender, class, and household composition shape the experience of time pressure. She shows us the continuities between the pre-digital and digital era, and points to possibilities for crafting more satisfying lives of work and intimacy—particularly by opening up technological design to a wider range of social groups and interests.

Pressed for Time is written in engaging, accessible prose, and addresses the subject in ways that help the reader to make sense of their own experiences and struggles to manage their time. In particular, the committee resonated with Wajcman’s depiction of the erosion of the shared sociotemporal order, which creates coordination problems that many of us seek to solve though texting and other smartphone apps. Pressed for Time is an admirable work of STS scholarship and a must-read for everyone inhabiting our fragmented temporal landscape. It is ultimately inspiring – hinting at the agency and inventiveness of readers to shape their own timescapes.

2017 Fleck Prize Committee: Abby Kinchy, Claire Waterton, Sulfikar Amir


I am thrilled to be awarded the Fleck prize. It is a tremendous honour and has particular resonance for me as I share a Polish Jewish ancestry with Ludwik Fleck. I have spent my academic career in sociology departments and my aim in Pressed for Time was to bring an STS perspective to bear on mainstream sociological debates about temporality, speed and modernity that are still largely uninformed by our scholarship. Perhaps inevitably, I have to report that the writing of this book was not accelerated by digitalization!

I owe a great debt to the 4S society for providing a stimulating environment for discussion, a wealth of excellent papers at its annual meetings, and the most generous international community of scholars one could hope for. My book is very much a product of our community and certainly all the better for having had many fruitful exchanges over the years. The project of formulating an alternative politics of time (and in particular a gendered time politics) cannot be separated from the politics of technology. My warm thanks to members of the Fleck Prize Committee for this award and for the enormous amount of work that such prize committees involve.


Judy Wajcman is the Anthony Giddens Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics. After finishing her PhD at Cambridge, her first post was at the University of Edinburgh, and a product of her time there was The Social Shaping of Technology (with Donald MacKenzie). Since then she has held various positions, including Sociology Professor in the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University. She has published widely on the gender relations of technology (Feminism Confronts Technology; TechnoFeminism). Her most recent book is The Sociology of Speed: Digital, Organizational, and Social Temporalities (2017, edited with N. Dodd). She was President of 4S from 2010-2011.