17th century time technologies

  • 1656: Dutch mathematician and scientist Christian Huygens invents a pendulum clock.
  • 1660: Cuckoo clocks were made in Furtwangen, Germany, in the Black Forest region.
  • 1675: Christian Huygens patents the pocket watch.

The pocket watch contributed to the development of the modern individual. Prior to this invention, time regulated and coordinated/disciplined public life. Clocks were public objects. With a pocket watch, a person could take a more active role in his/her own discipline.

The concept of the public, however, only makes sense when contrasted with the concept of the individual. The implication, then, is that there was no public before there were individuals–and the individual was only on invented in the classical age (late 17th-18th centuries.)

Nonetheless, 17th-century advances in timekeeping made the coordination of public life much easier. Gradually, everyone could be expected to be places on time–work, school, church, etc. And expectational structures are social structures; expectations can also be called norms.


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