Saturday, November 03, 2007

Tick, Tock, We Live By The Clock

Consider this an appendix to my post Tempus Fug'It. Also see my pal Werner at Shagya Blog's post on clocks and time. The domination of the clock, the mechanization of time over natural time coincided with the protestant reformation and industrialization and thus resulted in protestant capitalism. The result ever since has been the clash between 'wasted time'; leisure and 'productive time'; work and consumption.

The first requirement, regular work habits, which seems so self-evident today, took a lot of getting used to. For the vast majority of humanity's history, labour was directed towards the completion of a task. With wage labour, workers were expected to engage in continual production, regardless of the number of tasks completed, for the amount of time that they had sold their labour. This necessitated a dramatic change in the way people related to the labour process. As the historian Paul Phillips points out, this change, which occurred in the development of the capitalist labour market, "required a remaking of the behaviour and attitudes of the workers themselves, a remaking that constituted a cultural as well as an economic transformation - a replacement of the habits of irregularity, illdiscipline
and sloth and a preoccupation with the immediate, with habits of punctuality, regularity and
order and a longer-term view, all of which were necessary to the working of an emerging capitalist order with its new scientific technology".

Modern time is no different, computerization is itself an outgrowth of the clock, as is automation, itself a time based form of production. Automation is the standardization of time applied to production. Computerization is now the standardization of our time to the new clock.

From the 1970s, the adoption of computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacture (CAD-CAM) reshaped not only the labour-process but also marketing, a shift which soon feed back into the structures of production. The initial advantage to capital from CAD-CAM was a reduction in down-time because lathes and their highly paid operators did not have to be idled for so long in order for the machines to be reset. A contested benefit was the deskilling of certain operations which made it easier to replace skilled militants, and at lower rates of pay. (Jones, 1982)

The new machines renovated marketing because they also made shorter production runs profitable. Hence, the range of models on offer could be increased. That possibility has installed a built-to-order nexus between the sales effort and manufacturing. Dell’s customized computers provide the best-known case. Here, the advantage has been to cut the costs of having capital tied up in product as well as supplies. Just-in-time now applies to both ends of the chain. This expanding international trade in semi-finished goods (vertical specialization) has combined with new production technologies to dislodge certain higher-paid skilled workers. (Egger and Steher, 2003)

The cost-cutting depended on a reorganization of transport. Freight companies have re-branded themselves so that trucks promote “Mayne Logistics”. Geo-positioning satellites allow the firms to track each order around the globe, much as punch-cards did for cartons inside warehouses fifty years ago. Faster and more reliable deliveries are not enough. The services delivered by logistics firms are rewriting the production script. What began as a twist to outsourcing will reshape manufacturing, giving greater salience to continuous flow inside factories. (Economist, 7 December 2002: 69-70) The costs of down-time more fall not on capital part-time casuals, not sunk in the capital backing the assembly line.

No managerial innovation for the application of labour-times since the 1970s has had as much impact as did continuous flow, or the micro-time controls introduced during Mark IV. Instead, the era of the most advanced technologies has been accompanied by pushing up the rate of exploitation through the crudest devices of exacting unpaid labour-time throughout the service sector, and by intensification everywhere. The success of these measures was possible because of the disorganization of the working class, shadowed by fears of dismissal, now rampant in the airline industry.

The advent of the internet and other computerized communications systems are now changing our leisure, wasted time, to productive time. We must always be busy, consuming or producing.

According to Clifford Sharp, in his book "The Economics of Time", humans have at their disposal "economic time." That is, the time that a person allots between alternative activities. In all situations time is a scare resource; there are only 24 hours in a day, and the lives we live afford us a limited number of decades in which to participate in our world. Also, we can't do more than perhaps one or two activities at a time so how we divide our time is an important personal decision and is a major factor in our personal happiness and satisfaction.

The creation of social capital can take place during leisure, paid work or unpaid work. The
greater the volume of market labour, expressed in terms of hours per adult member of the
population per year, the lower the time potentially available for creation of social capital outside of work. Leisure time, which is by definition time available to focus on freely chosen activities, in particular socialising and taking part in associations of various kinds, may be particularly rich in its capacity to generate social capital, especially of the kinds analysed by Putnam (2000). On the other hand, paid work time has historically generated important forms of social capital; the trade union movement and bonds, often heavily gendered, within work-groups such as described by Massey (1994) or Fielding (1994). These forms have been relatively neglected in the social capital literature. Developments in the labour process are tending to undermine the potential for creation of social capital within the workplace, as we shall see later. Social capital can also be generated during unpaid work - for example whilst shopping - but in modern societies unpaid work is largely an isolated activity within the home; and as we shall see later, it is becoming more so. The key issue in relation to unpaid work is its gender distribution; if childcare and housework have been re-distributed from women to men, time available for participation in civil society or in socialising outside the family must surely have been redistributed from men to women.

Under modern capitalism we no longer sell our labour so much as our time. Each of us regardless of our skills or professions are interchangeable cogs in a machine of production and consumption. It is our time that is valued, not our person or our abilities. This is no mere truism of our existence in capitalist society. Over a hundred years ago the struggle began for the eight hour day today we now work more than that, and when we aren't working we are consuming ,all part of the cycle of modern capitalism.

The anthem of the Knights of Labor was the "Eight-Hour Song,"

We want to feel the sunshine;
We want to smell the flowers;
We're sure God has willed it.
And we mean to have eight hours.

We're summoning our forces from Shipyard, shop and mill;
Eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, Eight hours for what we will.

Beginning with Taylor and Ford mass production destroyed artisan and craft based production. It's teleology results in Toyotaism, just in time production, automation of work and society begun in the fifties with Demming's theories of Total Quality Management now are part of our daily lives, and indeed the language of work, public life, production and consumption. The 1980's and 1990's saw TQM applied not just to car factories and mass production but to all aspects of the social organization of capitalist society including the public sector; hospital's, schools, universities, and to all levels of government.

We are all interchangeable now. We are advised not to plan for life long careers but rather changing jobs over our lifetimes. We all multi-task, and are replaceable cogs in the machinery that is our daily lives. One of the revolutions that occurred in the nineties along with TQM was the home work revolution.It was the result of the contracting out and reduction in government services.

Internet and local computer based technologies not only change work and home life, but also challenge the relation between them. Drawing on advances in technology, many hi-tech firms promote remote forms of work. Teleworkers give up their company office some or all of the time, and work from home. By separating the place of employment from the place where the work is actually carried out, teleworking restructures the relationship between public and private spheres. Organizations expect to profit from the deep-seated restructuring and decentralization that telework entails. While firms may start teleworking with their budget in mind, however, employees adopt telework to balance their work and family commitments. Indeed, since promoters of telework use different symbols for different groups, goals often come into conflict (Sturesson,1997). The integration of family and work spheres raises deeper issues than moving data from the center to the periphery, and propels us to understand how employees experience working at home for the firm.

We work all our lives. We no longer retire to idle away in some pastoral idyll but rather we invest and consume if we are lucky and rich, or we retire and work, part time to supplement our pensions.

It is all about time. As the old joke goes whats the difference between work time and free time? I don't get paid for my free time.

But I am consuming none the less, and so I am part of the cycle of production. Our leisure time which once was an idyll from work is now a part of work, we consume leisure. We party in our free time at clubs, restaurants, movies, concerts etc. even when we watch TV or DVD's we have someone working to entertain us,
we are consuming someone's work. We are all part of the cycle of capitalism.

We have whole university departments now focused on the productive use of leisure, specifically keeping us healthy. Healthy to continue working and consuming.

And so as I blog I am both producing and consuming, I am in fact working, without pay, a slave to the new clock, the computer. And so are you as you read this. Glance down to the right see that little clock.....

Time and Information Technology: Temporal Impacts
on Individuals, Organizations, and Society

As a defining technology, both the clock and the computer
affect temporal aspects of individuals , organizations ,
and society on the one hand, and the way people view time,
on the other. Clocks affected every aspect of temporality
not particularly because they were time-measuring machines,
but because they were the deŽfining technology.

The mechanical clock, in its simplest form, was a tool
for measuring time. However, it had two fundamental
differences, which enabled it to make huge impacts on
human life and civilizations , compared to its predecessors
such as the sundial, water clock, hourglass, etc. First, the
mechanical clock, which had became reliable since the application
of the regular swing of a pendulum in 1657 by
Christiaan Huygens, was incomparable in accuracy. Before
1657 clocks could not keep time more closely than to
about 15 minutes per day; within 20 years they kept time
with a variation of less than 10 seconds per day (Macey,
1980, p. 33). Now it became a reliable tool which could
direct, and provide criteria for, the organization of human
activities. For example, before the clock, it was not
possible to consider and apply notions of accuracy and
punctuality as we do now.

Second, the mechanical clock freed time from nature.
Before accurate mechanical clocks, time had always been
measured in relation to physical and biotic phenomena, for
example, the rising and setting of the sun and the growth of
plants. By those temporal indications from nature, people
organized and conducted their activities. They woke up
and started to work when the sun rose and harvested their
cropswhen the days drewin.This “time was not something
Ž xed in advance and divorced from external events” and
with the advent of the mechanical clock, time became “a
function of pure mechanism” (Rifkin, 1987, p. 85). People
wake up when the clock strikes seven, not because the sun
rises. Thereforewe can argue that clocks “dissociated time
from human events” (Mumford, 1934, p. 15) and “human
events from nature” (Landes, 1983, p. 16).

At the organizational level, Thompson (1967) investigated
the impacts of the mechanical clock on labor disciplines
in early industrial capitalism when the “task orientation”
of time organization by which work proceeded in
“natural” rhythms gave way to “labor timed by the clock”
(pp. 59–60).

Mumford argued that “The clock, not the steam-engine,
is the key-machine of the modern industrial age” (1934,
p. 14) because the clock was “a model for many other
kinds of mechanical works, and the analysis of motion
that accompanied the perfection of the clock, with the various
types of gearing and transmission that were elaborated,
contributed to the success of quite different kinds of
machine” (p. 15). Macey (1980) suggests that the British
supremacy in the horological revolution of 1660–1760
contributed greatly to the British industrial revolution,
which is usually considered to have begun about 1760.

He further insists that clocks in the 17th century not only
affected industrial organizations, but also affected every
aspect of the society: literature, philosophy, theology, and
therefore, our way of thinking and our view of the world.

The computer is, in its simplest form, a tool for calculation.
However, it is “the contemporary analog of the
clocks” (Bolter, 1984, p. 10). Information technology is
affecting every facet of contemporary society. Time is
no exception. “Our appreciation and our evaluation of
the passage of time is changing in the computer age”
(Bolter, 1984, p. 100). Information technology can affect
and change temporality, people’s perceptions of time, its
measurement, and the way time is organized. As Rifkin
(1987) argues,
It is likely that within the next half century, the computer will
help facilitate a revolutionary change in time orientation, just
as clocks did several hundred years ago when they began the
process of replacing nonautomated timepieces as society’s
key time-ordering tools. : : : the new computer technology is
already changing the way we conceptualize time and, in the
process, is changing the way we think about ourselves and
the world around us.


E. P. Thompson
University of Warwick

Tess . . . started on her way up the dark and crooked lane or street not made
for hasty progress; a street laid out before inches of land had value, and
when one-handed clocks sufficiently subdivided the day. Thomas Hardy.

within the intellectual culture of Western Europe important changes
in the apprehension of time.1 In the Canterbury Tales the cock still
figures in his immemorial role as nature's timepiece: Chauntecleer —
Caste up his eyen to the brighte sonne,
That in the signe of Taurus hadde yronne
Twenty degrees and oon, and somwhat moore,
He knew by kynde, and by noon oother loore
That it was pryme, and crew with blisful stevene . . . .
But although "By nature knew he ech ascensioun/ Of the equynoxial
in thilke toun", the contrast between "nature's" time and clock time
is pointed in the image —
Wei sikerer was his crowyng in his logge
Than is a clokke, or an abbey orlogge.
This is a very early clock: Chaucer (unlike Chauntecleer) was a
Londoner, and was aware of the times of Court, of urban organization,
and of that "merchant's time" which Jacques Le Goff, in a suggestive
article in Annales, has opposed to the time of the medieval church.

I do not wish to argue how far the change was due to the spread of
clocks from the fourteenth century onwards, how far this was itself
a symptom of a new Puritan discipline and bourgeois exactitude.
However we see it, the change is certainly there. The clock steps
on to the Elizabethan stage, turning Faustus's last soliloquy into
a dialogue with time: "the stars move still, time runs, the clock will
strike". Sidereal time, which has been present since literature began,
has now moved at one step from the heavens into the home. Mortality
and love are both felt to be more poignant as the "Snayly motion of
the mooving hand"3 crosses the dial. When the watch is worn about
the neck it lies in proximity to the less regular beating of the heart.
The conventional Elizabethan images of time as a devourer, a defacer,
a bloody tyrant, a scytheman, are old enough, but there is a new
immediacy and insistence.

As the seventeenth century moves on the image of clock-work
extends, until, with Newton, it has engrossed the universe. And by
the middle of the eighteenth century (if we are to trust Sterne) the
clock had penetrated to more intimate levels. For Tristram Shandy's
father — "one of the most regular men in everything he did . . . that
ever lived" — "had made it a rule for many years of his life, — on
the first Sunday night of every month . . . to wind up a large houseclock,
which we had standing on the back-stairs head". "He had
likewise gradually brought some other little family concernments to
the same period", and this enabled Tristram to date his conception
very exactly. It also provoked The Clockmaker's Outcry against the
The directions I had for making several clocks for the country are countermanded;
because no modest lady now dares to mention a word about winding -
up a clock, without exposing herself to the sly leers and jokes of the family
. . . Nay, the common expression of street-walkers is, "Sir, will you have
your clock wound up ?"

Virtuous matrons (the "clockmaker" complained) are consigning their
clocks to lumber rooms as "exciting to acts of carnality".

However, this gross impressionism is unlikely to advance the
present enquiry: how far, and in what ways, did this shift in timesense
affect labour discipline, and how far did it influence the inward
apprehension of time of working people ? If the transition to
mature industrial society entailed a severe restructuring of working
habits — new disciplines, new incentives, and a new human nature
upon which these incentives could bite effectively — how far is this
related to changes in the inward notation of time ?

It is a problem which the peoples of the developing world must live
through and grow through. One hopes that they will be wary of pat,
manipulative models, which present the working masses only as an
inert labour force. And there is a sense, also, within the advanced
industrial countries, in which this has ceased to be a problem placed
in the past. For we are now at a point where sociologists are discussing
the "problem" of leisure And a part of the problem is: how did
it come to be a problem ? Puritanism, in its marriage of convenience
with industrial capitalism, was the agent which converted men to new
valuations of time; which taught children even in their infancy to
improve each shining hour; and which saturated men's minds with
the equation, time is money.128. One recurrent form of revolt
within Western industrial capitalism, whether bohemian or beatnik,
has often taken the form of flouting the urgency of respectable timevalues.

And the interesting question arises: if Puritanism
was a necessary part of the work-ethos which enabled the
industrialized world to break out of the poverty-stricken economies
of the past, will the Puritan valuation of time begin to decompose as
the pressures of poverty relax ? Is it decomposing already ? Will
men begin to lose that restless urgency, that desire to consume time
purposively, which most people carry just as they carry a watch on
their wrists ?

If we are to have enlarged leisure, in an automated future, the
problem is not "how are men going to be able to consume all these
additional time-units of leisure ?" but "what will be the capacity for
experience of the men who have this undirected time to live ?" If
we maintain a Puritan time-valuation, a commodity-valuation, then
it is a question of how this time is put to use, or how it is exploited by
the leisure industries. But if the purposive notation of time-use
becomes less compulsive, then men might have to re-learn some of the
arts of living lost in the industrial revolution: how to fill the interstices
of their days with enriched, more leisurely, personal and social
relations; how to break down once more the barriers between work
and life. And hence would stem a novel dialectic in which some of
the old aggressive energies and disciplines migrate to the newly industrializing
nations, while the old industrialized nations seek to
rediscover modes of experience forgotten before written history

. . . the Nuer have no expression equivalent to "time" in our language, and
they cannot, therefore, as we can, speak of time as though it were something
actual, which passes, can be wasted, can be saved, and so forth. I do not
think that they ever experience the same feeling of fighting against time or of
having to co-ordinate activities with an abstract passage of time because their
points of reference are mainly the activities themselves, which are generally
of a leisurely character. Events follow a logical order, but they are not
controlled by an abstract system, there being no autonomous points of
reference to which activities have to conform with precision. Nuer are

Of course, no culture re-appears in the same form. If men are to
meet both the demands of a highly-synchronized automated industry,
and of greatly enlarged areas of "free time", they must somehow
combine in a new synthesis elements of the old and of the new, finding
an imagery based neither upon the seasons nor upon the market but
upon human occasions. Punctuality in working hours would express
respect for one's fellow workmen. And unpurposive passing of time
would be behaviour which the culture approved

It can scarcely find approval among those who see the history of
"industrialization" in seemingly-neutral but, in fact, profoundly
value-loaded terms, as one of increasing rationalization in the service
of economic growth. The argument is at least as old as the industrial
revolution. Dickens saw the emblem of Thomas Gradgrind ("ready
to weigh and measure any parcel of human nature, and tell you
exactly what it comes to") as the "deadly statistical clock" in his
observatory, "which measured every second with a beat like a rap
upon a coffin-lid". But rationalism has grown new sociological
dimensions since Gradgrind's time. It was Werner Sombart who —
using the same favourite image of the Clockmaker — replaced the God
of mechanical materialism by the Entrepreneur:
If modern economic rationalism is like the mechanism of a clock, someone
must be there to wind it up.

The universities of the West are today thronged with academic
clocksmiths, anxious to patent new keys. But few have, as yet,
advanced as far as Thomas Wedgwood, the son of Josiah, who
designed a plan for taking the time and work-discipline of Etruria into
the very workshops of the child's formative consciousness:

My aim is high — I have been endeavouring some master stroke which should
anticipate a century or two upon the large-paced progress of human
improvement. Almost every prior step of its advance may be traced to the
influence of superior characters. Now, it is my opinion, that in the education
of the greatest of these characters, not more than one hour in ten has been
made to contribute to the formation of those qualities upon which this
influence has depended. Let us suppose ourselves in possession of a detailed
statement of the first twenty years of the life of some extraordinary genius j
what a chaos of perceptions! . . . How many hours, days, months have been
prodigally wasted in unproductive occupations! What a host of half formed
impressions & abortive conceptions blended into a mass of confusion . . . .
In the best regulated mind of the present day, had not there been, & is not
there some hours every day passed in reverie, thought ungoverned,
undirected ?

Wedgwood's plan was to design a new, rigorous, rational, closeted
system of education: Wordsworth was proposed as one possible
superintendent. His response was to write The Prelude — an essay
in the growth of a poet's consciousness which was, at the same time,
a polemic against —
The Guides, the Wardens of our faculties,
And Stewards of our labour, watchful men
And skilful in the usury of time,
Sages, who in their prescience would controul
All accidents, and to the very road
Which they have fashion'd would confine us down,
Like engines . . . .

For there is no such thing as economic growth which is not, at the
same time, growth or change of a culture; and the growth of social
consciousness, like the growth of a poet's mind, can never, in the last
analysis, be planned.

The Fabrication of Labor

Germany and Britain, 1640–1914

Richard Biernacki

Berkeley · Los Angeles · Oxford
© 1997 The Regents of the University of California
1— Conclusion: Under the Aegis of Culture

The Explanatory Method

The Fetishism of Quantified Labor

Forms of Passage

When the British adopted methods for calculating an efficiency ratio on new looms, their methods did not always conform to the cultural framework in place in Germany. At the firm of Benjamin Thornber and Sons in Burnley, records show that managers began calculating the efficiency of production no later than 1919. Unlike German managers, however, they did not begin with the maximum production possible in a given unit of time. They calculated the hours required to complete a piece of cloth of a fixed length with uninterrupted operation of the loom and then compared this with the actual number of hours used to produce cloth of that length. To be sure, the formula expressed efficiency as a percentage of the maximum possible, as in Germany. Yet fabric partitioned time, not time fabric; British practitioners


reasoned in this instance from hours per cloth, not, as the Germans did, from cloth per hour. Even when the British analyzed the use of labor in time, then, they sometimes began with the length of cloth, not the motions executed, as labor's denominator, a sign that change did not necessarily push them toward the German perspective of transmission of labor as a commodity.

Whether the systems of industrial practice in Germany and Britain contained endogenous forces for change that would have revealed themselves but for the intervention of the First World War, no one is in a position to determine. In the event, the force summoned to dislocate the systems was the organizational influence of the state, which broke the liberal-capitalist occultism of commodity production. In both Germany and Britain, during the war the state assumed greater responsibility for determining the rate at which workers were paid. In Germany, the workers' receipts from employers for piecework were adjusted to provide additional allowances, regardless of performance, to men for each dependent child.] Government intervened to decide not just the social benefits workers received as citizens but the wages they received as wage laborers, which now diverged from the quantity of labor power expended. The state determined not just the amount of pay but the formula by which it was calculated. The purchase of labor as a commodity through the autonomous workings of the market was not circumscribed; rather, it was completely undermined.


In Britain the breakdown of a market in raw materials and labor is illustrated by the policies of the Cotton Control Board, an association of textile manufacturers appointed in 1917 by the government Board of Trade. The Control Board allocated raw cotton at controlled prices to manufacturers, who were required to purchase a license to operate all their standing machinery. The more equipment the mill owners operated, the greater the levies they owed to the Cotton Control Board; the funds were used to provide unemployment relief for operatives in the industry.The board also controlled wage agreements. When the spinners, weavers, and card-room workers began negotiations in 1918 for large pay raises, the Cotton Control Board threatened (with great effect) to eliminate unemployment relief. Clearly, the bargaining no longer revolved around the sale of materialized labor, but centered on the collectively managed maintenance of labor power.

The war brought about a fundamental shift in the symbolic apparatuses of production in Britain. Perhaps because manufacturers had to purchase a license for each machine they wanted to run, they began to abandon the custom of locking tardy workers out; instead, they threatened to make latecomers put in a full day of labor by working past quitting time. Government-sponsored costing principles made it superfluous to reckon expenditures on overlookers' labor as an input embodied in the cloth; instead, overlookers received a guaranteed wage whether or not they or their underlings worked.

Receiving shadows: governance and liminality in the night-time economy

This paper focuses upon the emergence of the night-time economy both materially and culturally as a powerful manifestation of post-industrial society. This emergence features two key processes: firstly a shift in economic development from the industrial to the post-industrial; secondly a significant orientation of urban governance involving a move away from the traditional managerial functions of local service provision, towards an entrepreneurial stance primarily focused on the facilitation of economic growth. Central to this new economic era is the identification and promotion of liminality. The State's apparent inability to control these new leisure zones constitutes the creation of an urban frontier that is governed by commercial imperatives.

Into the Night-Time Economy: Work, Leisure, Urbanity and the Creative Industries.
By Tara Brabazon and Stephen Mallinder


The goal of this paper is to investigate the shape and challenges of urban and economic development. We continue the analysis of Paul Chatterton and Robert Hollands in Urban Nightscapes, to reveal the contradictions between the production, regulation and consumption of nightlife. Their research discussed nocturnal urban history as, “a story of corporate power, greed, domination and marginalization, not to mention hedonism / pleasure, dissatisfaction and resistance across city streets at night.” Noting their study with intellectual respect, we continue their ‘story’ to probe the role of nocturnal practices,
behaviours and attitudes in an attempt to understand and map the margins of work, leisure and urbanity after dark.

While Fordism chained labour tasks to external rhythms, Post-Fordism displaced much of what was previously termed ‘work.’ The acceptance of part-time and casual employment would be rare, even thirty years ago. Aronowitz described this phenomenon as, “millions of people take whatever part-time work is available regardless of its content and do not expect to be fulfilled by it, except in relation to income it yields.”What has enabled this transformation is the movement from an identity formed through work to an identity shaped by consumerism.

Shopping is the pay off for the highly exploitative employment without security. While manufacturing still exists, hospitality, tourism and retail are the growth areas of the economy, providing the foundation and framework for the night-time economy. A small and skilled core workforce is outnumbered by a large group of
temporary, casualized and deunionized workers. Post-Fordism encourages worker flexibility, autonomy and responsibility. It also creates cyclical poverty for many and builds a ‘service economy’ of cleaners and waiting staff. Non-standard employment has increased, encompassing underemployment, over-employment and self-employment. These positions have few benefits and little job security.

There is a clash between the older theories and modes of work and the non-standard employment of the creative industries, particularly in the night-time economy. As Stanley Aronowitz has argued, “the labor movement focused on the struggle over the working day.”The working night was not a focus.

Mothers' Toil and Daughters' Leisure: Working-class Girls and Time in 1920s Germany

Christina Benninghaus1

1 University of Bielefeld, Germany

Gender not only influences how time is used, it also shapes the way it is experienced. Thus `time' has a different meaning for men and for women. Based on the analysis of hundreds of compositions written by working-class girls in the 1920s, this article examines the significance of gender and age in the perception of time. Changes in the realms of both work and leisure time, a powerful cult of youth, and contemporary debates on the `New Woman' helped girls and young women living in Germany in the interwar period to develop a new relationship to free time. However, while girls claimed leisure opportunities for themselves, they did not challenge the fundamental tension between femininity and access to free time. On the contrary, in the girls' own eyes, constant readiness to work and unflagging concern for the welfare of others remained basic components of adult female identity. Building on these reflections, the final section of the paper focuses on a methodological problem. If it is true that working-class women saw having free time at one's disposal as part of a masculine identity and as virtually incompatible with respectable feminity, evidence on working-class women's leisure activities is unlikely to figure in their self-testimonies. As a close examination of contemporary surveys and oral-history interviews shows, texts by women on their use of time have to be understood as constructions and therefore must be read `against the grain'.

Time & Society, Vol. 3, No. 3, 277-303 (1994)
DOI: 10.1177/0961463X94003003002
© 1994 SAGE Publications

The Tensions between Process Time and Clock Time in Care-Work

The Example of Day Nurseries

Karen Davies Implicit or explicit in work on care and caring has been the issue of time. Notwithstanding this fact, however, time itself has not been sufficiently problematized. In the first part of this paper, the concept of process time is introduced and its relevance for an understanding of care-work is suggested. Drawing on data from a qualitative study of day nurseries in Sweden, the second part of the paper explores various tensions and conflicts that (can) arise in this type of care-work due to the intermeshing of clock/linear time and process time. The implications, in relation to present day economic cuts, are also briefly discussed.

The Working Class

But one of the structures that unite civil society and the world of paid work is
that of time itself. In general, time is structured largely by the organizations for
which people work for money, and employers are its main controllers. 'They
transform life-time into working-time' (Capital 1, 7, 25: 799). This temporal
order is still largely governed by the speed of an increasingly capital-intensive
machine system, whose rate does not follow the rhythm of life, has little to do
with the phenomena of nature, and, even yearly, seems to accelerate.
Life and life's events simply cannot be organized like industrial time, and
industrial time does not bend to the requirements of human living. Over a
lifetime, falling in love, giving birth and child-rearing occur according to
different experiences of time, and biological imperatives such as eating and
sleeping impose their own time constraints. Similarly, the pattern of the rituals
of the family-household - the ceremonies of life, love and death, of success
and failure – involves experiences of time and its passing that are not
amenable to the industrial clock (Donaldson, 1996: 40).

Nonetheless, industrial time takes precedence over other forms of time. Time
with others outside paid work and time alone give way to its demands. Time
scarcity is passed down a hierarchy of social times. Time pressures within the
organizations of paid work are resolved by methods involving greater work
intensity, longer hours, and night and weekend work. These reduce the
amount of 'interaction time'-time with workmates at work, family and friends at
home-which in turn leads to a greater scarcity of time for and with ourselves.
Because the time we have is definitely finite, the taking of time for one set of
activities necessarily means taking it from others. The stratification of time is
such that personal time is the most consistently sacrificed, as the time needs
of the family-household are above our own, and the needs of the paid
workplace take precedence over them, and over time for building and
sustaining the organisations and networks of civil society.

Those who buck the imperatives of this strict hierarchy of time, as serious
parents must, pay a penalty. Rachel Power (2005: 25, 26) suggests that
current feminists are attentive once more to 'the real barrier to happiness: the
organisation of work', arguing for the 'obvious need' for extensive changes in
paid work, taxation, industrial relations and family policies to allow for a decent
family life and for the raising of children, on the basis that all mothers and
fathers have the right and responsibility to earn and to parent.

Railroads and Time Consciousness in the Antebellum South

Aaron W. Marrs

AARON W. MARRS is on the editorial staff at the Office of the Historian, United States Department of State. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of South Carolina in 2006, and is currently revising his dissertation, "The Iron Horse Turns South: A History of Antebellum Southern Railroads," for publication.

Historians have often looked to industrial capitalism to further our understanding of "time consciousness." This article explores time consciousness through the experience of a railroad in pre-Civil War South Carolina. Examining the South Carolina Railroad allows us to examine how time consciousness operated in a region not associated with industrial capitalism, and also see how multiple times could function simultaneously. While clocks were important to railroad operations, companies also had to address an array of non-clock times. Moreover, companies were never fully in control of their own time, but were in constant conflict and negotiation with various groups in the community. While industrialization and factory labor remain important ways to understand time consciousness, looking beyond the factory walls can help historians make better use of the analytical power of time.

Father Time, Speed, and the Temporality of Posters Around 1900

The essay proposes that advertising posters around 1900 construct a popular-culture iconography of a modern temporality associated with new technologies. In addition, it proposes, posters themselves embody a new temporality as a medium. The essay analyses how posters portray time by focusing on several images, some of which depict an updated allegorical figure of Father Time in order to advertise a racing automobile or precision watch.The essay also addresses the temporality of posters as a medium by investigating their conditions of viewing and the role of their advertising function. The discussion of the media specificity of posters, their cultural context, and a detailed analysis of their imagery, concludes that posters both elicit a certain kind of temporal viewing and portray a conflictual transition between old and new temporalities.

Frederick Winslow Taylor

The man who made us all work like this…

BBC History Magazine, June 2003

One of the most characteristic developments of the 20th century - in social change, in consumerism and in the deadly new efficiency of war - was arguably the rise of industrial mass-production. That makes this a key centenary year.

Because the year 1903 - exactly a century ago - marked the true beginning of mass-production in a series of developments at the leading edge of management thinking. Henry Ford founded the company that bears his name and started experimenting with ideas that would lead to the assembly line, William Morris decided to specialise in motor cars - and the man behind 'scientific efficiency' and time-and-motion study first unveiled his ideas to American engineers.

The trouble was that Taylor's ideal worker wasn't really human at all. He was a cog - an automaton who did what he was told. "Every day, year in and year out, each man should ask himself over and over again, two questions," said Taylor in his standard lecture. "First, 'What is the name of the man I am now working for?' And having answered this definitely then 'What does this man want me to do, right now?' Not, 'What ought I to do in the interests of the company I am working for?' Not, 'What are the duties of the position I am filling? Not, 'What did I agree to do when I came here?' Not, 'What should I do for my own best interest?' but plainly and simply, 'What does this man want me to do?'"

Hand in hand with this assumption - that the workforce had nothing to offer but brawn - was the enthusiasm for standardisation.

"My dream is that the time will come when every drill press will be speeded just so," his assistant Carl Barth told the congressional hearings in 1914, "and every planer, every lathe the world over will be harmonised just like musical pitches are the same all over the world... so that we can standardise and say that for drilling a one-inch hole the world over will be done with the same speed."

Time and the Biological Consequences of Globalization
Author(s) by Kevin Birth
Identifiers Current Anthropology, volume 48 (2007), pages 215–236
DOI: 10.1086/510472
Availability This site: PS | HTML | PDF (179.1k)
Copyright © 2007, The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research..
Abstract Discussions of globalization and time-space compression have not acknowledged the implications of the relationship of time and place on a rotating globe where each locale has its own cycles of day and night. When these cycles are recognized, several contradictions in contemporary capitalism emerge, most notably temporal conflicts between locations on the globe, desynchronization of biological cycles, and lack of correspondence between those cycles and social life. These contradictions are increasingly being addressed but not resolved through the power of the media to determine the timing of social activity and pharmacological interventions to ameliorate the bodily suffering caused by desynchronization.

Biopolitical Temporalities

Labour and the Temporal History of the Modes of Production: Natural Economies and Capitalism

Research reveals that it would be impossible to argue against the claim that there was from circa 1300 – at least in so far as Continental Europe and the English are concerned - an inter-generational, class-directed and formally articulated policy of manipulation or “indoctrination” with respect to the dominant, organizing temporal structure of society and its temporal form or mode of production. Non-European cultures underwent their change from organic to mechanical time much later and in often in response to European or English idealization, dominance, or (most likely) imposition. Bradby calls the product of this intergenerational, class directed change in the mode of production the destruction of a “natural economy.”For Bradby

‘natural economy’ is to be understood as one based upon the production for personal needs and the close connection between industry and agriculture…is opposed to economies of expanded reproduction, and to all commodity economies. Its destruction implies the progressive socialization of labour processes that can be separated from the land as immediate objective condition of production, and the growth of a commodity economy, in which production is no longer in order to satisfy a direct need of the producer, but in order to create and realize exchange-value. The process of destruction is completed when land and, most importantly, labour-power itself, become commodities, and the end of production comes to be the creation of surplus-value for capital. The term ‘natural economy’ is therefore used to mean those characteristics of pre-capitalist modes of production which are essentially opposed to capitalist relations of production, and which must be destroyed for the development of capitalism to be possible.

The destruction of a natural economy and the change to capitalism is simultaneous with a change in the cultural conception of time; and that this change in the cultural conception of time is a change from an organic or ecologic conception of time to a mechanical or abstract conception of time.

The productive labour of social production historically suffers the greatest change. Thompson writes about the bourgeois alarm against the temporal manners of the labourers; he writes, “a considerable proportion of manual workers (one moralist was alarmed to discover) after concluding their work were left with

‘several hours in the day to be spent nearly as they please. And in what manner… is this precious time expended by those of no mental cultivation?… We shall often see them just simply annihilating those portions of time. They will for an hour, or for hours together…sit on a bench, or lie down on a bank or hillock… yielded up to utter vacancy and torpor…or collected in groups by the road side, in readiness to find in whatever passes there occasions for gross jocularity; practicing some impertinence, or uttering some jeering scurrility, at the expense of persons going by…’

This clearly, was worse than Bingo: non-productivity, compounded with impertinence. In mature capitalist society all time must be consumed, marketed, put to use; it is offensive for the labour force merely to ‘pass the time.’” Labour must be always either producing or consuming.

Moishe Postone stresses in his study of Marx that “the social relations characteristic of capitalism are constituted by labour.” But, importantly Postone immediately points out, “what also characterizes these social forms, according to Marx, is their temporal dimension and quantifiablity.” The concept of time is, then, of “central significance in Marx’s analysis of the nature of capitalist society.”

The relations between time and labour constitute and express a “temporal norm” in production to which “they [i.e., labour] must conform.” Postone writes,

The time expended in producing a particular commodity is mediated in a socially general manner and transformed into an average that determines the magnitude of the value of the product. The category of socially necessary labour time, then, expresses a general temporal norm resulting from the action of the producers, to which they must conform. Not only is one compelled to produce and exchange commodities in order to survive, but – if one is to obtain the “full value” of one’s labour time – that time must equal the temporal norm expressed by socially necessary labour time. It is the temporal dimension of the abstract domination that characterizes the structures of alienated social relations in capitalism.

Capitalism and Mechanical Coordination

I also think that historical research demonstrates that this change in the cultural conception of time without which capitalism would not have been possible is an historical change which formally embodied and enacted a classed-directed bias.

The power of this bias is both exemplified and embodied by the mechanical conception of time. Quantifying and coordinating time and production, increasing the efficiency of production over time by coordinating productive labour, the higher economic classes became the stewards of the labour-time of the monks and the masses. It would be historically na├»ve to think that the clock’s only role in history was just to tell the time! Rather, Mayr reveals,

When the mechanical clock was first invented, it was greeted…with almost religious veneration…Demonstrating, in an impressively concrete manner, a particular kind of rationality and logic and a distinctive method of achieving desired results, it appealed to unexpressed desires and latent inclinations.

The clock, then, is as ideological and political as it is mechanical and regular. Continuing Mayr writes

For several centuries, the clock’s most important function was perhaps to serve as an instrument of popular education and, indeed, indoctrination. To progress-minded Europeans of the Renaissance, the clock embodied the best things the future could bring: an end to magic and superstition, rationality in thought, and order in public life.

Mayr also supports the thesis offered by E.P. Thompson, Barbara Bradby and Moishe Postone that the mechanical clock-sense of time embodies an authoritarian scheme of domination upon productive labour: indeed that this scheme of domination is the historical reason for the imposition and totalization of the mechanical conception of time and work in the first place. Mayr writes,

While the authoritarian conception of order took shape in the minds of the literate upper classes, the clock also had its effect, partly in a non-verbal manner, upon the thinking and feeling of the unlettered rural majorities. They were not likely to get the clocks into their hands, but they would see them in the village church, on the towers of the town, or at regional fairs. In both its roles, as a timekeeper and as a demonstration model of rational, purposeful action, the clock served as an important and purposefully used instrument in preparing the masses for the ways of modern industrial society.

Thompson too supports the claim that the time-sense of labour underwent “technological conditioning” and that the elites’ use “time-measurement as a means of labour exploitation.” Harvey expresses it this way:

Symbolized by clocks and bells that called workers to labour and merchants to market, separated from the ‘natural’ rhythms of agrarian life, and divorced from religious significations, merchants and masters created a new ‘chronological net’ in which daily life was caught.

But, like Hladik, to what degree would we want to attach our fate to a mechanical clock, a fascist’s or a capitalist’s? Given that industrial capitalistic societies and their institutionalized Leviathans are already being forced to conform to the over-determining reality of natural systems, as enacted in the Kyoto Protocols, unsolved key questions remain for our understanding of the future of global production, specifically its temporal form. Given the future, the possibilities, hope and anxiety associated with it, understanding the emerging biopolitical temporality is important for this is an important and elite domain of political action, as Hardt and Negri in Empire write,

Understanding this construction of new temporalities will help us see how the multitude has the potential to make its action coherent as a real political tendency.[22]

Take the complaint of an 19th century factory worker:

If the clock is as it used to be, the minute hand is at the weight, so that as soon as it passes the point of gravity, it drops three minutes all at once, so that it leaves them only twenty-seven minutes, instead of thirty.[23]

So, the lesson for us and for the future of biopolitical production is that, when it comes to time, we must be wary of

The Guides, the Wardens of our faculties

And Stewards of our labour, watchful men

And skillful in the usury of time,

Sages, who in their prescience would controul

All accidents, and to the very road

Which they have fashion’d would confine us down,

Like engines…

Reality check: Are We Living In An Immaterial World?

Goodbye to value as measure?

As stated earlier, one of the distinguishing features of postworkerism is the rejection of Marx’s so-called ‘law of value’. George Caffentzis reminds us that Marx himself rarely spoke of such a law, but there is also no doubt of his opinion that, under the rule of capital, the amount of labour time socially necessary to produce commodities ultimately determined their value.20 In breaking with Marx in this regard, postworkerists draw some of their inspiration instead from a passage in the Grundrisse known as the ‘Fragment on Machines’. This envisages a situation, in line with capital’s perennial attempt to free itself from dependence upon labour, where knowledge has become the lifeblood of fixed capital, and the direct input of labour to production is merely incidental. In these circumstances, Marx argues, capital effectively cuts the ground from under its own feet, for ‘As soon as labour in the direct form has ceased to be the great well-spring of wealth, labour time ceases and must cease to be its measure, and hence exchange value [must cease to be the measure] of use value’.21

Negri, among others, has insisted for many years, and in a variety of ways, that capital has now reached this stage. Therefore, nothing but sheer domination keeps its rule in place: ‘the logic of capital is no longer functional to development, but is simply command for its own reproduction’.22 In fact a range of social commentators have evoked the ‘Fragment on Machines’ in recent times – apart from anything else, it has held a certain popularity amongst those (like reactionary futurologist Jeremy Rifkin) who tell us that we live in an increasingly work-free society. It’s a pity, then, that few of these writers follow the logic of Marx’s argument in the Grundrisse to its conclusions. For while he indicates that capital does indeed seek ‘to reduce labour time to a minimum’, Marx also reminds us that capital is itself nothing other than accumulated labour time (abstract labour as value).23 In other words, capital is obliged by its very nature, and for as long as we are stuck with it, to pose ‘labour time … as sole measure and source of wealth.’

In its efforts to escape from labour, capital attempts a number of things that, each in their own way, fuel arguments that make labour time appear as irrelevant as the measure of capital’s development. Looked at more carefully, however, each can be seen in a somewhat different light. To begin with, capital tries as much as possible to externalise its labour costs: to take a banal example (although not so banal if you are a former bank employee), by encouraging online and teller machine banking and discouraging over-the-counter customer service. As for our own work regimes, many of us find ourselves bringing more and more work home (or on the train, or in the car). More and more of us also seem to be on stand-by, accessible through the net or by phone. Added together, such strategies (which, to add to the messiness of it all, may well intersect with our own individual aspirations for greater flexibility) go a long way to help explain that blurring of the line between the ‘work’ and ‘non work’ components of our day that Negri decries. On the other hand, they also cast that boundary in light other than that of the collapse of labour time as the measure of value, one in which – precisely because the quantity of labour time is crucial to capital’s existence – as much labour as possible comes to be performed in its unpaid form.

Secondly, in seeking to decrease labour costs within individual organisations, capital also reshapes the process through which profits are distributed on a sectoral and global scale. In a number of essays over the past 15 years, George Caffentzis has outlined the idea, first elaborated at some length in the third volume of Marx’s Capital, that average rates of profit suck surplus value from labour-intensive sectors towards those with much greater investment in fixed capital:

In order for there to be an average rate of profit throughout the capitalist system, branches of industry that employ very little labour but a lot of machinery must be able to have the right to call on the pool of value that high-labour, low-tech branches create. If there were no such branches or no such right, then the average rate of profit would be so low in the high-tech, low-labour industries that all investment would stop and the system would terminate. Consequently, ‘new enclosures’ in the countryside must accompany the rise of ‘automatic processes’ in industry, the computer requires the sweat shop, and the cyborg’s existence is premised on the slave.24

In this instance, if there appears to be no immediate correlation between the value of an individual commodity and the profit that it returns in the market, the answer may well be that there is none: the puzzle can only be solved by examining the sector as a whole, in a sweep that reaches far beyond the horizons of immaterial labour. Here too, it’s a matter of which parameters we choose to frame our enquiry.

Thirdly, and following on from above, the division of labour in many organisations, industries and firms has reached the point where it is difficult – and probably pointless – to determine the contribution of an individual employee to the mass of commodities that they help to produce.25 Again, this can foster the sense that the labour time involved in producing such commodities (whether tangible or not) is irrelevant to the value they contain. Marx, for his part, argued that the central question in making sense of all this was one of perspective:

If we consider the aggregate worker, i.e. if we take all the members comprising the workshop together, then we see that their combined activity results materially in an aggregate product which is at the same time a quantity of goods. And here it is quite immaterial whether the job of a particular worker, who is merely a limb of this aggregate worker, is at a greater or smaller distance from the actual manual labour.26

In this regard, Ursula Huws’ critique of notions of ‘the weightless economy’ deserves careful attention. Like Doug Henwood in his fierce deconstruction of the ‘new economy’,27 Huws draws our attention back not only to the massive infrastructure that underpins ‘the knowledge economy’, but also to ‘the fact that real people with real bodies have contributed real time to the development of these “weightless” commodities.’28 As for determining the contribution of human labour within the production of immaterial products, Huws argues, that while this might ‘be difficult to model, that ‘does not render the task impossible’. Or, in David Harvie’s words, ‘every day the personifications of capital – whether private or state – make judgements regarding value and its measure’ in their efforts ‘to reinforc[e] the connection between value and work’; He adds:

Hardt and Negri may believe in the ‘impossibility of power’s calculating and ordering production at a global level’, but ‘power’ hasn’t stopped trying and the ‘impossibility’ of its project derives directly from our own struggles against the reduction of life to measure.29

Also see;

The End Of The Leisure Society

Black History Month; Paul Lafargue

Take Time From the Boss

Work Sucks

Time For The Four Hour Day

Goof Off Day

The Right To Be Greedy

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