Rhythms of Research, Researching Rhythms



Rhythms are the basics of life. The earth’s elliptical movement creates recurring rhythms of day-night and the seasons. Rhythms are the placement of sound and silence in time, in a piece of music, and in speech. Rhythms are the beat of your heart, arrhythmic at times. Rhythms are repetition and change, emphasizing and relieving, giving and receiving. Experiencing like breathing is a rhythm of intakings and outgivings. Their succession is punctuated and made a rhythm by the existing of intervals, periods in which one phase is ceasing and the other is inchoate and preparing” (Dewey 1934, p. 158). In this way, rhythm refers to various kinds of repeated patterns such as in language, music, natural phenomena and human activities.

This call for papers invites contributions on rhythms as an analytical perspective - the Rhythms of Research and contributions on the ways in which rhythms are experienced in various aspects of life - Researching Rhythms. Lyon (2019) notes that there is a renewed interest and awareness of rhythm in the social sciences and humanities, and that this ‘return’ can be seen as a response to the changes in the structures, processes, spaces and temporalities of everyday life. These changes are addressed with concepts such as ‘acceleration’ (Rosa, 2013), ‘resonance’ (Rosa, 2019) and ‘spacetime compression’ (Harvey, 1990), among others, which refer to the ways in which everyday life, institutions and social structures leave less and less space and time for resonant and ‘rhythmic’ experiences .

We are inspired by the concept of rhythm as it appears in the writings of the French sociologist and philosopher Henri Lefebvre (1901-91) and the American philosopher, psychologist and educational reformer John Dewey (1859-1952). Dewey used the idea of rhythms to grasp aesthetic experience and the ethical imperative. He emphasized that rhythm is not just temporal but something which “takes place” in “ordered variations of changes” (Dewey, 1934, p. 160). Lefebvre inspires research as an intellectual, embodied endeavour. In his discussions of music, commodities, measurement, media and the city, Lefebvre, (1992) develops a framework, Rhythmanalysis, for studying linear and non-linear time. He argues that the human body has several rhythms and that rhythms outside of the body can be studied with the researchers own rhythms as a reference. Rhythms offer an approach for studying, understanding and representing modern and postmodern speed, experiences of breakdown, and the various movements of slowness that challenge the ‘cult of speed’ (Honoré, 2004).

Rather than being a ‘standard research method’, rhythmanalysis is a general orientation comprising a set of approaches that can be applied depending on the object and field of inquiry. As a research practice rhythmanalysis has much in common with ethnography and its ambitions of being there and observing through spatially, temporally and sensually attuned practice, but it has also been used in more quantitative studies of economic circles and digital interaction. Analyzing rhythms involves an intimate feel for the transaction between and entanglement of bodies and spaces, and a commitment to experimenting different ways of becoming attuned to the world (McCormack, 2013). 

Rhythmanalyses are published in many forms and what holds them together as a body of work is the search for temporal patterns of social activity (Lyon, 2019). It involves the researcher engaging actively and creatively with his or her own rhythms and with the rhythms in the field of investigation. While the vocabulary of pace (e.g., ‘speed’, ‘slow’ and ‘acceleration’) may give the impression of linearity, the vocabulary of spacetime (e.g., ‘rhythm’ and ‘resonance’) offers a complex approach for the study of various coexisting rhythms involving place, materiality, movement and the body (Lyon, 2019), as well as transgressions of boundaries and issues of power (Reid-Musson, 2018).

We are looking for papers that address, but are not necessarily limited to, the following topics:

How rhythms are organized and experienced.

Rhythms relating to power, place, and the body.

The ways in which different rhythms are configured, enacted and negotiated in everyday life.

The continuities and transformations of everyday and embodied rhythms.

How rhythms are perceived as normal or deviant/arrhythmic.

What role rhythms play in academic settings; research, teaching and writing.

The relationship between rhythm, interruptions and breakdowns.



Barletta, V. (2019). The births of rhythm: John dewey and aesthetic form  . In J. R. Resina, & C. Wulf (Eds.), Repetition, recurrence, returns: How cultural renewal works (pp. 147)

Dewey, J. (1934). Art as experience. New York: Penguin Group.

Harvey, D. (1990). The condition of postmodernity: An enquiry into the origins of cultural change. Cambridge: MA: Blackwell.

Honoré, C. (2004). In praise of slow. how a worldwide movement is challenging the cult of speed. London: Orion Books.

Lefebvre, H. (1992). Rhythmanalysis: Space, time and everyday life. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Lyon, D. (2019). What is rhythmanalysis? London: Bloomsbury Academic.

McCormack, D. P. (2013). Refrains for moving bodies: Experience and experiment in affective spaces. Durhma and London: Duke University PRess.

Reid-Musson, E. (2018). Intersectional rhythmanalysis: Power, rhythm, and everyday life. Progress in Human Geography, 42(6), 881-897. doi:10.1177/0309132517725069

Rosa, H. (2013). Social acceleration. A new theory of modernity. New York: Columbia University Press.

Rosa, H. (2019). Resonance. A sociology of our relationship to the world . Cambridge: Polity Press.