Tag Archives: Time

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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