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Dealing with Timing and Synchronization in Opportunities for Joint Activity Participation

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The ability of people to access opportunities offered by the built environment is circumscribed by various sets of space–time constraints, including the requirements to meet other persons at particular times and places to undertake activities together. While models of space–time accessibility recognize that joint activities may constrain the performance of activities in space and time, their specifications do not explicitly acknowledge the opportunities that individuals of a group have for joint activity participation. Therefore, this article focuses on joint activity participation and argues that collective activity decisions are the outcome of a complex process involving various aspects of timing, synchronization, and social hierarchy. The utility-theoretic model proposed here quantifies the extent to which opportunities can be jointly accessed by a particular group of people within a specific time period. Central to the approach are three key variables: the attractiveness of an opportunity, the time available for activity participation, and the travel time to an activity location. Because of the multiperson character of joint activities, the determination of these variables is subject to individual preferences, privileges, and power differentials within a group. Specific attention is given to how time-of-day and synchronization effects influence the opportunities accessible to a group of individuals. The impact of these factors on joint accessibility is illustrated by a real-world example of an everyday rendezvous scenario. The outcomes of a simulation exercise suggest that time-of-day and synchronization effects significantly affect the benefits that can be gained from opportunities for joint activities.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Geography, Ghent University, Krijgslaan, Ghent, Belgium 2: Department of Geography, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, U.S.A.

Publication date: 2010-07-01

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