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Lepore and Bosquet

Of course when I responded to Robert last night and mentioned how there weren’t any other posts up, I didn’t realize that I was responsible for provoking this week! So sorry for the delay.

I already summed up some of my thinking about the Bosquet and Lepore readings on Robert’s thread, so rather than repeat myself, I thought I’d cut right to the chase with some questions.

Lepore:

  • Lepore traces the history of theories of change, from divine providence to historicism, progress, evolution, growth, innovation, and now disruption — “a theory of history founded on a profound anxiety about financial collapse, an apocalyptic fear of global devastation, and shaky evidence.” One historical theory of change that Lepore leaves out is Marx’s, which in some ways borrowed from Darwin’s evolution, but as we know from our reading and David Harvey’s lectures, relied on a dialectic of many other components. How might we use Marx’s ideas about how societies change to help us understand disruption’s popularity, or to help Lepore debunk it?

Bosquet:

I’m making lots of Marx connections today. Bosquet focuses on changing labor relations in the academy, writing: “Late capitalism doesn’t just happen to the university, the university makes late capitalism happen. The flexible faculty are just one dimension of an informationalized higher ed — the transformation of the university into an efficient and thoroughly accountable environment through which streaming education can be made available in the way that information is delivered: just in time, on demand, in spasms synchronized to the work rhythm of student labor on the shop floor” (44). 

  • Bosquet’s notion of disruption is far different then Christensen’s — he’s writing about grassroots actions that adjuncts and graduate students might take to raise consciousness about and organize for better working conditions, higher salaries, and tenure. What role might stronger unions and this form of disruption play as universities seek to address “the crisis of higher ed” through tech innovations, as described in the other readings?
  • We extended Marx’ analogies about the machine, the tool, and the power source to computers a few weeks ago in class. How might Marxist ideas about the role of the machine and technology come in to play in thinking about the mechanization of university teaching and learning? To what extent does the analogy hold? Where might it break down?

Time, Work Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism

As I type this up on Sunday morning, I realize the irony of my tardiness in regards to this piece.

Thompson begins by giving us examples of how time had historically been measured by perspective and a more personal context, such as the amount of time it takes rice to cook compared to the length of an Ave Maria. While reading through these first couple of sections to this, I seemed to hone in on one particular example Thompson gave from just over the hump of Middle English into New English, “pissing while.” Thompson calls it a, “somewhat arbitrary measurement,” but believe it or not this has been studied recently and the conclusion determined that all mammals take about 21 seconds to do their thing. Not making this up. So with that context, in my eyes “a pissing while” is approximately 21 seconds long.

But of course, with this, as with some other examples Thompson has given, there are variables that may alter the range of any unit of measurement, whether it’s the direction that the wind blows, or the amount of physical labor that an individual might actually be able to perform. This eventually evolves into the notion that time is money.

In this piece, Thompson explains how attitudes towards time have changed as our economies have shifted through and beyond the industrial revolution.

So how has time, or the way that time is viewed within our modern societies and economies shifted? Is the 40-hour work week still the norm? Should we shift to another format? Do experiments like those being carried out in Sweden demonstrate that it is time to reevaluated our work week or what constitutes enough time to complete our the tasks of our labor? Does it matter? If so how does it matter to you?

Citation:

Thompson, E.P., (Dec., 1967), Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism, Past and Present