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Professor Barbara Adam

Professor Barbara Adam

Emerita Professor

Media commentator


My entire academic career has been developed at Cardiff University. As a mature student (1980-1983) and PhD (1983-1987) with two children I was not free to make career moves to other universities. From 1988 onwards I have been employed as an academic by Cardiff University and since 1999 I have held a Personal Chair in sociology at the University's School of Social Sciences.

My work has been translated into 7 languages (incl. Japanese, German and Italian) and I have been invited to teach and present my work across the world.

Since 2011 I am Emerita Professor at Cardiff University.

Honours and awards

1990, Philip Abrams Memorial Prizeawarded for monograph Time and Social Theory by the British Sociological Association for `Best First Book'

1995, J T Fraser Prizeawarded for monograph Timewatch. The Social Analysis of Time by the International Society for the Study of  Time for `A Book of Excellence in Time Studies'

2007 DScEcon, Cardiff University

2009 Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences, FAcSS

2010 Fellow of the Learned Society of Wales, FLSW


1999 - 2000 Max Weber Professor, Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Munich, Germany

2009 Professorial Fellow – University Cagliari, Sardinia

2010 Distinguished Professorial Fellow – IAS Durham University

2011 Schumacher Distinguished Fellow – Schumacher Institute, Bristol University

2018-19 Senior Fellow – Institute of Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam, Germany

2019- Affiliate Scholar – Institute of Advanced Sustainability Studies, Potsdam, Germany







  • Adam, B. E. et al. 2014. Promise through the lens of time. Presented at: Futures in Question, Goldsmiths, University of London, 11-12 September 2014.
  • Adam, B. E. 2014. Future matters for ageing research. Presented at: Imagining the Future Workshop, London, England, 11 February 2010 Presented at Bornaj, J. and Jones, R. L. eds.Imagining Futures : Methodological Issues for Research into Ageing. The Representation of Older People in Ageing Research Series Vol. 13. Milton Keynes: Open University/CPA pp. 11-25.


  • Adam, B. E. 2013. Clock time: tyrannies and alternatives. In: Coote, A. and Franklin, J. eds. Time On Our Side: Why We All Need a Shorter Working Week. London: New Economics Foundation, pp. 31-41.






  • Adam, B. E. and Groves, C. R. 2007. Future matters: action, knowledge, ethics. The Study of Time / Supplements Vol. 3. Leiden: Brill.
  • Adam, B. E. 2007. Time control (kontrolle der zeit). In: Heitkötter, M. and Schneider, M. eds. Zeitpolitisches Glossar: Grundbegriffe, Felder, Instrumente, Strategien. Tutzinger Materialien Vol. 90. Tutzing: Evangelische Akademie, pp. 66-68.
  • Adam, B. E. 2007. Foreword. In: Hassan, R. and Purser, R. E. eds. 24/7: Time and Temporality in the Network Society. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, pp. ix-xi.
  • Adam, B. E. 2007. Mobilität / Verkehr. In: Heitkötter, M. and Schneider, M. eds. Zeitpolitisches Glossar: Grundbegriffe, Felder, Instrumente, Strategien. Tutzinger Materialien Vol. 90. Tutzing: Evangelische Akademie, pp. 51-53.
  • Adam, B. E. 2007. The global future. In: Robertson, R. and Scholte, J. A. eds. Encyclopedia of Globalization., Vol. 2. London: Routledge, pp. 304-312.









  • Time Theory and Practice across social and socio-environmental domains
  • Futures Theory and Practice across social domains past and present
  • Social theory and socio-environmental theory
  • My primary expertise is in the area of social and socio-environmental time. I have developed this perspective over the last three decades during which I have worked the time dimension into the following areas of conceptual and empirical social science research: culture, education, environment, environmental economics, food, globalisation, gender, health, international relations, management, media, risk, technological innovation, transport and work. As such, this intellectual project, which spans my academic career, brought time to the center of social science analysis.

    As an integral part of this research commitment I edited the international, trans-disciplinary Sage journal Time & Society, which I founded in 1992 and handed over to new editors towards the end of 1998.

    Since 2003 I have expanded the time focus to 'the future' under the ESRC's Professorial Fellowship Scheme 'In Pursuit of the Future'. This work is theoretically challenging and has significant implications for policy and entrepreneurial practice. The End-of-Award Report of this project has been rewarded an 'outstanding' grade. This research is ongoing and encompasses work on risk and uncertainty. Extensive networks of international collaborators have been built up across the full breadth of this future and risk domain. This research focus led me to collaborate with artists, which I have fruitfully continued to this day.

    In the Future Matters Collective this transdisciplinarity is put into practice. At our regular meetings academics from a wide range of disciplines, artists and policy practitioners explore themes through their own and each other’s knowledge practices. See

    The relevance of this unique socio-environmental theory has transcended disciplines to such an extent that it is taught not just in the Social and Environmental Sciences but also across the Arts and the Humanities.

    Funded Research

    1994-6 ESRC Fellowship - Global Environmental Change Initiative (L32027312593) Mapping the Environment: Temporal and Spatial Problems for the Social Sciences. £ 64,380.

    1996-9  EEC-funded Project – 4th Framework (ST96 AM601) Policy Assessment of Trans-European Networks & Common Transport Policy TENASSES (11 partners, total budget ECU 1.2 Million) ECU 28,000 for time consultancy.

    1999     ESRC Pilot Project Bridging Time Theory and Practice: Exploring Time Politics for the Food System (R000222946 - 07-10/99) £ 21,730.

    2001-3 EU 5th Framework Foresight for Transport (GMA2/2000/32057, 5 partners, total budget EU 1.4 Million) EU 121,200 for Cardiff time expertise.

    2003-7  ESRC Professorial Fellowship (RES-051-27-0049), In Pursuit of the Future, £ 350,000 plus additional 3-year PhD studentship.


Areas of expertise

Research links