Boróka Bó

Boróka Bó (She/her)
Ph.D. Candidate
Department of Sociology and Demography
UC Berkeley

Current Research:

Tell Me Who’s Your Neighbor and I’ll Tell You How Much Time You’ve Got: The Spatiotemporal Consequences of Residential Segregation

Boróka studies how the social meaning of time differs during seminal life course transition periods. She is interested in how this is influenced by individual and contextual characteristics. Building on work from the sociology of the life course, sociology of emotions and the sociology of time, she asks two questions: What does it mean to run out of time?, and how does not having enough time matter for wellbeing?

Studying the experiences of Canadian retirees during the COVID-19 pandemic, while drawing on insights from Interaction Ritual Theory (IRT), she argues that the topic of time is underdeveloped in the physical-interaction reliant framework of IRT. Boróka elaborates on the framework via an examination of the relationship between socioeconomic status (SES) and retiree community engagement during the pandemic. She was motivated to pursue this project to ensure that her work honors the experiences of both high-SES and more economically and socially marginalized communities.

Among other findings, Boróka found that SES framed both the social experience of time and the prevalent emotions experienced by retirees while physically distancing during the early days of the pandemic. These individual-level experiences translated to markedly different blueprints for interaction. High-SES retirees were more likely to ‘go global’, organizing to advocate for their interests. Conversely, low-SES retirees were more likely to ‘turn in’, minimizing their community engagement. The findings reveal how existing sociopolitical inequalities may become further entrenched in public health crises. The research mainly relies on qualitative data (ethnography and in-depth interviews, N=178), also including a qualitative survey (N=402) constructing new time scarcity measures.

While her dissertation and the bulk of her research focuses on Canada, Boróka also examines the above questions in other contexts. In a forthcoming paper, she shows how residential ethnic segregation in three of the most segregated cities in the US influences time availability. In a recently published paper,  she studied how migration shapes intergenerational time exchanges in developing Europe. Finally, for a project funded by the Gates Foundation, she collected a nationally representative dataset on time use in K-12 schools, in order to examine how economic resource inequalities shape inequalities in time.

Boróka’s academic work is starting to garner recognition from policy makers and from the private sector. She has been invited to serve as a time use expert on the Barcelona Time Use Initiative for a Healthy Society. In her spare time, she also consults for two international consulting firms, advising equity investors on the time tracking and productivity software landscape. More of Boróka’s work and interests can be found at www.BorokaBo.com.

Research Challenges and Impact:

Pre-pandemic, Boróka was engaged in ethnographic fieldwork and in-person in-depth interviews for over 8 months. Once the COVID-19 crisis began, however, she transitioned to a remote format. As she was recuperating from COVID-19 herself while also remotely interviewing retirees, the research was both physically and emotionally taxing. To be fully present during qualitative, in-depth interviews took a considerable amount of emotional and physical effort under the circumstances. From a research perspective, the pandemic underscored the salience of SES in the lives of participants (not everyone could properly socially distance as they lived in crowded households, and not everyone had access to video chat).

Boróka’s research responds to calls for insights from the social sciences to understand the consequences of the pandemic, particularly when it comes to how existing sociopolitical inequalities may become further entrenched via this crisis. Her work serves as an important first step for future work studying the long-term consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic when it comes to the well-being of our aged population. The results thus far also highlight the need for further research on how stratification processes connect to socio-temporal processes, undergirding the transmission of disadvantage across the life course. This line of research has significant health and social policy implications. She currently works with policy makers addressing socio-temporal aspects of well-being inequalities (both in older aged and K-12).

Boróka’s advice to other graduate students:

“Your colleagues and your professors are great sources of wisdom! Make lots of friends. Always remember what an absolute privilege it is to be in academia, receiving incredible training while forming fun memories – this will carry you through the stressful times. :)”

Publications:

Bó, Boróka. 2020. “Beyond the Time Bind: Gender Inequality and the Tempo of Life in 87 Countries.” Time & Society, 29(3): 892-915.

Bó, Boróka, Zachary Zimmer, Codrina Rada. 2020. “The Structure and Determinants of Intergenerational Support Exchange Flows in an Eastern European Setting.” Research on Aging, 42(9-10): 262-271.

Bó, Boróka. 2019. “Structure versus Agency: A Cross-National Examination of Discrimination and the Internalization of Negative Stereotypes.” European Societies, 21(3): 327-355.

Bohler-Muller, Narnia and Boróka Bó. 2016. “Transformative constitutionalism, power and consensus: Are the courts in charge?” in in State of the Nation South Africa, edited by D.Plaatjies, M.Chitiga-Mabugu, C.Hongoro, T.Meyiwa, M.Nkondo, F.Nyamnjoh. HSRC.

Wilkins, Amy, Stefanie Mollborn and Boróka Bó. 2014. “Constructing Difference.” in Handbook of the Social Psychology of Inequality, edited by Jane McLeod, Edward Lawler, and Michael Schwalbe. Springer.

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