More Long Hours Culture

Professorial twit over at CiF:

Ever got home on a Friday night and felt so knackered after a week\’s work that all you wanted to do was stay in bed for the whole weekend? Or that, with the freedom of the weekend, almost anything was possible but that by early Sunday afternoon, the weekend is over, as thoughts turn to Monday? What about feeling all of the above, week-in, week-out?

Or ever felt that, in order to get ready to go on holiday, you had to work harder to clear your desk of work? Or that going away on holiday had an even heavier price to pay – coming back to all the work that built up for you when you were away? Or that to avoid this, you took work away with you?

All these are just some examples of the way that workers experience the daily grind of work under capitalism, where the most significant part of their waking hours is spent at work.

My response in the comments:

There\’s only one problem with this article. It doesn\’t define "work" properly.
There are two forms of work. That which is done for wages, outside the home. And that done inside the home for no wages. Both are work. (Try telling any random feminist that it is not work to run a home.)
What has been happening over recent decades (for a century or more in fact) is that paid working hours for men have been declining, paid working hours for women rising. But unpaid working hours for men have also been falling and unpaid working hours for women falling faster. Both of these falls are largely to do with technology, washing machines, freezers, cars that need less maintenance etc. The net effect has been that leisure hours (ie, total hours not spent working) have been rising for both men and women.

Now if we try to do a cross-country comparison of working hours we need to take account of both the paid working hours and the unpaid in the home. For example, one study I\’ve seen shows that American women do more paid working hours than German. But Germans do more unpaid working hours in the home than American. The net effect is that German women work half an hour longer than Americans per week.
(I think I\’m remembering the results of that paper correctly.)

If you don\’t define work properly then you\’ll not be able to say anything interesting about the problem: as in the article above. Why doesn\’t the Professor come back when he\’s got some cross country comparisons of total working hours and then we\’ll talk about it?

Wonder what the responses to that will be like?

5 thoughts on “More Long Hours Culture”

  1. “professor of industrial relations, University of Hertfordshire”, where they don’t do capitalisation, apparently.

  2. All these are just some examples of the way that workers experience the daily grind of work under capitalism, where the most significant part of their waking hours is spent at work.

    The guys working on our construction site work 10 hours per day, six days per week, 9 weeks on, 2 weeks off. One of my guys works 10 hours per day, 7 days per week, 9 weeks on, 3 weeks off. The pay is good, but not that good. And they have to do all this halfway up Sakhalin Island, the state of which shocked even me.

    All their own choice of course, and they’ll only do ith for about 10-15 years, but it puts things in perspective about blokes moaning about a 5 day week.

  3. The definition of unpaid work needs even further refinement than Tim implies here. I have a neighbour who loves DIY and is constantly building things, decorating and generally faffing about in his house and garden. He considers them leisure pursuits

    I hate DIY and gardening and consider them unpaid work. Because I dislike them so much I am prepared to do more paid work so that I can pay someone to do this work for me. That way I spend more time on the golf course, my leisure pursuit.

    My choice.

  4. The points:

    1. I think the good Professor should read Solzhenitsyn to be reminded of the true definition of “daily grind”.

    2. What’s with this missionary work to the Guardianistas, Tim? Is it really worth attempting to convert savages to the benefits of the Enlightenment? These days you’re unlikely to be put in a giant pot and eaten, but they might make you wear crystals.

    3. I think I’m entitled to extra points to spelling “Solzhenitsyn” correctly without looking it up. Although to be fair, I’ve typed it more times since Brown became PM than in the entire previous 20 years.

  5. “My choice.”

    I’m sorry. Gordon Brown doesn’t agree that you can choose. You might make “inappropriate” decisions.

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