Chronocentrism is the assumption that certain time periods (typically the present) are better, more important, or a more significant frame of reference than other time periods, either past or future. The perception of more positive attributes such as morality, technology, and sophistication to one's own time could lead an individual as a member of a collectivity to impose their forms of time on others and impede the efforts towards more homogeneous temporal commons.[1]


Chronocentrism (from the Greek chrono- meaning "time") was coined by sociologist Jib Fowles in an article in the journal Futures in February, 1974. Fowles described chronocentrism as "the belief that one's own times are paramount, that other periods pale in comparison".[2] A critical view described it as the belief that only the present counts and that the past is irrelevant except to serve as a reference to a few basic assumptions about what went before.[3] More recently, it has been defined as "the egotism that one's own generation is poised on the very cusp of history".[4] The term had been used earlier in a study about attitudes to ageing in the workplace. Chronocentricity: "...only seeing the value of one's own age cohort...described the tendency for younger managers to hold negative perceptions of the abilities or other work-related competencies of older employees."[5] This type of discrimination is a form of ageism.


Chronocentrism as ethnocentrism is the perceiving and judging of a culture's historical values in terms of the standards of one's own time period.


The Long Now Foundation is an organization that encourages the use of 5-digit years, e.g. "02016" instead of "2016," to help emphasize how early the present time is in their vision of the timeline of humanity. The use of two-digit years before Y2K was an example of chronocentrism (in the early years of computing, the years 2000 and 1899 were believed to be too far in the future or the past, and thus of less importance than being able to save two digits in computerizing and typing out years).


The "Copernican time principle" is a temporal analog of the Copernican principle for space, which states that no spatial location is any more or less special of a frame of reference than any other spatial location (i.e., that our physical universe has no center). Some authors have extended this to also include that no point in time is any more or less special than any other point in time (e.g., in outdated steady-state theories), though this cannot be universally applied (e.g., the Big-Bang singularity is a special point in time that can be logically used as a frame of reference to date later events).[6]

Chronocentrism is also considered a norm in music until the twentieth century when musicians believe their music preserved a style of interpretation that formed an unbroken chain of authority and orthodoxy.[7] For instance, Romantic musicians deliberately changed the style when performing earlier repertoire.[7]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Roe, Robert; Waller, Mary; Clegg, Steart (2008). Time in Organizational Research. Routledge. p. 279. ISBN 978-0203889947.
  2. ^ Fowles, Jib (February 1974). "On Chronocentrism". Futures. 6 (1): 249. doi:10.1016/0016-3287(74)90008-1.
  3. ^ Thorne, Tony (2007-11-01). Shoot the Puppy: A Survival Guide to the Curious Jargon of Modern Life. Penguin UK. ISBN 9780141963990.
  4. ^ Standage, Tom (2007). The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-line Pioneers. Walker & Company. p. 256. ISBN 978-0-8027-1604-0.
  5. ^ Lyon, Phil; Pollard, D (1 January 1997). "Perceptions of the older employee: is anything really changing?". Personnel Review. 26 (4): 249. doi:10.1108/00483489710172051.
  6. ^ Adams, Fred (1999). The five ages of the universe : inside the physics of eternity. Greg Laughlin. New York: Free Press. ISBN 0-684-85422-8. OCLC 40754822.
  7. ^ a b Haynes, Bruce (2007). The End of Early Music: A Period Performer's History of Music for the Twenty-First Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 26. ISBN 9780195189872.