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If Only the French Republicans Had Known This: The Week as a Social Fact

Author(s): Theun Pieter van Tienoven | Ignace Glorieux | Joeri Minnen | Sarah Daniels | Djiwo Weenas

Journal: Societies
ISSN 2075-4698

Volume: 3;
Issue: 4;
Start page: 399;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: social time | French Revolution | the week | calendric reform | big data

During the French Revolution and inspired by the Enlightenment, an attempt was made to replace the Gregorian calendar (which was based on ‘irrational’ overlapping cycles linked to religious celebrations) by the Republican calendar (which was based on ‘rational’ clearly nested cycles in accordance with the metric system). Although the starting point was an ideological and aesthetic expression of rationalism, this calendar also had to fulfill a coordinating and integrating function. Thus the calendric reform faced a tremendous challenge: re-creating a socio-temporal order. One of the crucial socio-temporal frameworks that guide daily behavior in Western societies is the 7-day cycle of the week. In the new calendar, the week was to be replaced by the 10-day cycle or the décade, which turned out the greatest stumbling block for calendar-reformation. Theoretically this is explained by the social nature of time and the ‘second nature’ of time reckoning, but the unawareness of a socially established weekly rhythm in our daily behavior is hard to illustrate. Today, however, society is full of traces of so-called ‘big data’ that humans leave behind. This paper uses ‘big data’ on re-charges of electronic keys to show that even though a 10-day re-charging cycle is proposed, a 7-day re-charging cycle will surface.
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