Desafíos del análisis del tiempo en las ciencias sociales: aplicación de metodologías longitudinales al estudio de la evolución de la pobreza por ingresos en el Partido de Tres de Febrero en el periodo 2000 – 2005


Piovani, Juan Ignacio

Spatial Coverage

Temporal Coverage

2000 – 2005




203 p.


Atribución-NoComercial-SinDerivadas 2.0 Genérica (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)




2000 – 2005


This thesis addresses various issues related to the analysis of the effects of time on social events, some of the methodological / epistemological challenges, and of dialogue and integration of social sciences with other sciences that can improve this task. Temporality is therefore conceptualized as a significant dimension for understanding social processes. This approach is applied to the analysis of data from a longitudinal study of living conditions, poverty and income, in the area of Tres de Febrero (Buenos Aires, Argentina).

In their academic and professional practices social scientists were usually focused on the study of their contemporary societies, and in the analysis of cross-sectional data. Today, we find a renewed attention on the empirical analysis of the processes of changeusing diachronic data analysis (Singer & Willet, 2003), and in the development oflong term longitudinal researchprograms, mainly in Europe and United States3.This renewed interest in time from a theoretical and methodological point of view, surely enriches the social sciences, and helps to address the long- term consequences of social actions.

In general, the use of these methodologies requires theoretical interpretations of time. In Chapter 1,we discuss some featuresof the theoretical approaches of the twentieth century(in particular structuralism, structural functionalism and linguistics) and their low proclivity to study change (Adam, 1990). Then, from approaches related to social structuring (Giddens, 1984)and the concept of reproduction of social structures,time hasonce more theoretical relevance. These theoretical approaches were also enriched with new methodologies, such as multilevel models of change (Singer & Willet, 2003), panel studies and different econometric techniques (Hsiao, 1986), survival and risk analysis, hazard functions. The cross-sectional data are not sufficient; measuring changes in social sciences is relevant, and doing so requires longitudinal data.

The study of change raises a necessary review of the theoretical, epistemological and methodological assumptions involved. Some of these problems require an interdisciplinary approach ofissues as irreversibility (Prigogine, 1993; Prigogine, Stengers, 1984), probability of events, and ordering of causes and effectsin time.

Integratingin a case studythese concepts, four methodological and epistemological challenges for the analysis of time are identified: 1) the presence of irreversible effects –those which occur in one direction in time -- , with a disruptionof the symmetry between “before” and “after”(Prigogine, 1993); 2) obsolescence of indicators that operationalize concepts: in social sciences the relationship between the concept and the indicator may not be constant over time (Oliva, 2014); 3) the difficulties of forecasting and prognosis of variables in social structures and scenarios; 4) the distinction between cause and effect, considering an temporary sequence where the cause (or independent variable) is previous to the effect (or dependent variable, respectively).

These challenges are not unique, but these can be related to methodological problems of empirical research. To illustrate these relations in Chapter 2 we examine longitudinal data, and the evolution of poverty and income in Tres de Febrero between 2000 and 2005. Population under the poverty lineis estimated with this data(with standard methodologies used at that time in Argentina by official statistics). From these estimates, poverty trajectories are examined using categorical variables methods of longitudinal analysis - transitions, events,
changes -; also multilevel methods are used for the analysis of the evolution of individual incomes. The information is of particular relevance and interest since it was collectedin a social and political crisis in Argentina between 2000- 2005. In addition,some hypotheses about processesof social exclusion of households under poverty line are explored, and thus the relevance of longitudinal analysis to guide different social and public policy intervention.Therefore, the analysis of these processes in a time perspective enriches the comprehension of social stratification.

In this thesis,the use of longitudinal methodsis merged with a conceptualization of time as a significant factor to understand social processes. The empirical findings are linked to the four challenges of time analysis previously acknowledged, which is an original contribution of this thesis. Thus, it seeks to enrich different methodological and epistemological features of the work of the social sciences.

Título obtenido

Doctor de la Universidad de Buenos Aires en Ciencias Sociales

Institución otorgante

Universidad de Buenos Aires. Facultad de Ciencias Sociales

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