Modern times, ancient hours : working lives in the twenty-first century
- Pietro Basso ; edited and translated by Giacomo Donis.
- London ; New York : Verso, 2003.
- Updated and expanded ed.
Where to find it
Working ever more intensely, at a faster pace and for longer hours, the modern working class needs to renew its struggle
It is a commonly expressed view that the sickness of our society is unemployment. Less frequently argued is the fact that this same society is suffering from overwork. And less frequently still that in our capitalist market society the two sicknesses, unemployment and overwork, feed off one another and jointly attack the working classes of the world.
Pietro Basso's thesis is that the average working time of wage labourers is now more intense, fast-paced, "flexible" and longer than at any time in recent history. This is true, he argues, not only in industry and agriculture, but also, and particularly, in "services." It is also increasingly true for all Western countries and not just the USA. The introduction of the thirty-five-hour working week in France notwithstanding, all the signs of a creeping deterioration in the working lives of millions of people are evident: a reduction in the purchasing power of wages, the mass downsizing of corporations, the continual erosion of company and state-ensured benefits, and the availability of much cheaper labour from Latin America, Asia, Africa and eastern Europe.
Modern Times, Ancient Hours combines a theoretical explanation of the causes of this "paradoxical" evolution of working hours with an impressively broad range of empirical documentation, making the book a highly significant and timely contribution to the study of the way in which most people's working lives are now lived. The book also reminds us that the human aspiration to do work that does not break the body or the spirit is universal and deep-rooted. Workers will rise, Basso argues, if they continue to be pushed beyond their limits.
- Introduction p. 1
- 1 The Question of Working Hours p. 10
- 2 Long-term Trends 1945-89 p. 26
- Keynes's Prophecy
- The Harsh Response of History
- The Situation in the United States and Japan
- The Situation in Europe
- The Lengthening and Restructuring of Hours, after the Crisis of 1974-75
- Technical Progress, Profit, Working Time
- 3 The Confirmation of the 1990s p. 57
- The Diffusion of Toyotaism
- The Diffusion of Variable Hours
- The Diffusion of Shiftwork
- The Diffusion of Neoliberal Policies
- (Official) Hours and Labour Productivity
- 4 A Reply to Some Objections p. 92
- The Numbers, Today and Yesterday
- The Driving Force of the Reduction of Hours
- Contradictions in the Calculation of Working Time
- A Return to the Nineteenth Century?
- The Presumed Disneyland of 'Services'
- The Presumed Difference of Europe
- The Presumed Cure-all of Part-time Work
- Quantity and Quality
- Appendix A Second European Survey on Working Conditions p. 140
- Appendix B Vietnam: 24-hour Continuous Shifts p. 147
- 5 Towards the 35- or the 45-hour Week? p. 150
- The German Case
- The French Case
- The Italian Case
- 6 Modern Times, Ancient Hours: An Enigma? p. 183
- I. Theses of Neoliberalism p. 183
- II. First Elements of a Critical Analysis p. 192
- Social Labour, Private Appropriation
- Capitalism, Production for Profit
- Profit, Unpaid Working Time
- The Capitalist Use of Science and Technology
- The Paradox of Labour Productivity
- Globalization and Working Hours
- Notes p. 217
- Index p. 265
This item is about
- London ; New York : Verso, 2003.
- Translated from the Italian.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -264) and index.
- 275 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
- OCLC Number
- Other Identifiers
- National Bibliography Number: GBA3-X8777