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Carleton College

Publication Date

Fall 2015

Program Name

Chile: Cultural Identity, Social Justice, and Community Development


Time is a prevailing entity that impacts the human experience on an individual and societal level. While time cannot be objectively defined – it is asomatous and ethereal in nature – it imposes limits that permeate life on a fundamental level. Humans are intimately bonded with time, based on a symbiotic relationship. Time exists and is perpetuated by our practice of it. Naturally, these practices differ across socio-cultural realities. In this way, our understanding and use of time emerges as an aspect of culture. Time reflects cultural, political and social realities. Wait times in Chile are notoriously long. In the mornings, before 9:00am lines form outside of banks, mail services, and public offices. This practice of arriving early to wait in line to access basic social services reflects a familiarity with the bureaucratic system and their deprioritization of the people. My project is the product of a series of non-participant observations, a survey and several interviews that I conducted outside of Valparaiso’s Civil Registry, where every weekday morning before the office opens at 8:30 am you can find around a hundred people waiting in line to be served. My results exhibit the impacts of these wait times, both on individual levels and beyond. Through a critical analysis, I argue that wait times are a form of obligatory discipline facilitated by dominant power structures. The malleability of time enables it to be manipulated and thus can be easily used to assert dominance and repress the people. In this investigation, it becomes clear that wait times are reflections of these dominant power structures.


Community-Based Learning | Family, Life Course, and Society | Inequality and Stratification | Politics and Social Change | Public Affairs, Public Policy and Public Administration | Social Welfare