Modern Times Ancient Hours: Working Lives in the Twenty-First Century

Overview

It is a commonly expressed view that the sickness of our society is unemployment. Less frequently argued is the fact that we are, at the same time, suffering from overwork. It is even more rare to hear that the two sicknesses, unemployment and overwork, feed off one another and jointly attack the working classes worldwide.

In Modern Times, Ancient Hours, Pietro Basso argues convincingly that the average working time of wage laborers is more intense, fast-paced, flexible, and ...

See more details below
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (20) from $1.99   
  • New (8) from $1.99   
  • Used (12) from $1.99   
Sending request ...

Overview

It is a commonly expressed view that the sickness of our society is unemployment. Less frequently argued is the fact that we are, at the same time, suffering from overwork. It is even more rare to hear that the two sicknesses, unemployment and overwork, feed off one another and jointly attack the working classes worldwide.

In Modern Times, Ancient Hours, Pietro Basso argues convincingly that the average working time of wage laborers is more intense, fast-paced, flexible, and longer than at any period in recent history. This is true, he posits, not only in industry and agriculture, but also, and particularly, in the service industry. In this comprehensive survey of all the Western countries, he demonstrates that extraordinary work pressure is increasing throughout. All the signs of a creeping deterioration in the working lives of millions of people are explored: a reduction in the purchasing power of wages, the mass downsizing of corporations, the continual erosion of company and state-ensured benefits, and finally the availability of much cheaper labor from Latin America, Asia, Africa and eastern Europe. The only sensible response is a renewal of the working-class struggle.

Modern Times, Ancient Hours forcefully 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.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Mike Davis
“As Basso emphasizes in this urgent and authoritative investigation, nothing is more corrosive of social solidarity than the ‘American disease’ of longer work hours and greater economic inequality. The Third World, as he so powerfully documents, is in our own frontyard.”
Saskia Sassen
“Basso navigates through a vast scholarly landscape without ever losing track of his question: what does the shaping of work hours tell us about capitalism? A compelling mix of erudition and politics.”
From the Publisher
“As Basso emphasizes in this urgent and authoritative investigation, nothing is more corrosive of social solidarity than the ‘American disease’ of longer work hours and greater economic inequality. The Third World, as he so powerfully documents, is in our own frontyard.”—Mike Davis

“Basso navigates through a vast scholarly landscape without ever losing track of his question: what does the shaping of work hours tell us about capitalism? A compelling mix of erudition and politics.”—Saskia Sassen

Publishers Weekly
Increased leisure time is supposedly one of the hallmarks of a modern economy, but this biting polemic argues that unfortunately, this isn't true. Drawing on a wealth of statistical data, Basso shows that in recent decades, despite productivity gains, work hours have held steady in the developed world, and have even crept up in the United States and Japan. In the newly industrializing countries, 19th-century conditions prevail, with 12-hour workdays the standard, and some Vietnamese factory workers pulling shifts of 24 straight hours. The pace and "density" of work have also increased as automation and "just-in-time" production techniques wring every second of downtime from the hectic workday. Meanwhile, the dwindling of free time and the spread of night and weekend work and irregularly scheduled shifts have wrought havoc with family and social life. These problems have been treated elsewhere, particularly in Juliet Schor's The Overworked American, which Basso cites. He adds a Marxist interpretation: the trend toward overwork, he asserts, is an ineluctable feature of capitalism; whatever leisure time we enjoy has come through the efforts of the labor movement. Basso writes just like Marx, for good and ill. His prose sometimes flounders in Marxist cant. But he also has a broad conception of the interpenetration of economy and society, and directs a scabrous wit at the sacred cows of management theory (especially incisive is his critique of "Toyotaism," as he calls the "totalitarian" regimen of the supposedly harmonious Japanese workplace). His vision of the enduring struggle between capitalists, who view time as a brute factor of production, and workers, for whom it is life itself, raises a formidable challenge to the reigning orthodoxies of neo-liberal market ideology. (June) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859845653
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 5/19/2003
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Pietro Basso is Professor of Sociology at the University of Venice.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 The Question of Working Hours 10
2 Long-term Trends 1945-89 26
3 The Confirmation of the 1990s 57
4 A Reply to Some Objections 92
App. A Second European Survey on Working Conditions 140
App. B Vietnam: 24-hour Continuous Shifts 147
5 Towards the 35- or the 45-hour Week? 150
6 Modern Times, Ancient Hours: An Enigma? 183
Notes 217
Index 265
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)