Chronemic urgency in everyday digital communication

Yoram M. Kalman, Dawna I. Ballard, Ana M. Aguilar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The experience of a lack of time due to an increasing burden of urgent tasks is one of the more common challenges created by digital communication media in the network society. This study develops the concept of chronemic urgency to explore urgent messaging using digital media. Chronemic urgency is the urgency users assign to messages received via a specific communication medium. Consistent with a communication perspective, the urgency is a function of both the relationship and the media. This study uses social entrainment theory and expectancy violations theory to conceptualize the chronemic urgency construct. This construct is then examined in a pilot study of the chronemic urgency 773 US-based participants assign to the communication media they use at least on a weekly basis. High chronemic urgency is assigned to messages received through media that (1) are used for urgent communication, (2) are checked more often, (3) are likely to be used by others who wish to contact the user urgently, and (4) are likely to lead to a quicker response. Despite the increasing centrality of urgency in everyday communication in the digital age, researchers and practitioners lack reliable methods to measure chronemic urgency in populations. The findings provide initial indications of levels of chronemic urgency in the US population’s everyday digital communication and create a foundation to better understand contemporary temporal phenomena.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-175
Number of pages23
JournalTime and Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Chronemics
  • digital communication
  • entrainment
  • time
  • urgency

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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