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Work Time: Conflict, Control, and Change

ISBN: 978-0-7456-5425-6
200 pages
May 2012, Polity
Work Time: Conflict, Control, and Change (0745654258) cover image
Work Time is a sociological overview of a complex web of relations that shapes much of our experience of work and life yet often goes without critical examination.

Cynthia Negrey examines work time past and present, exploring structural economic change and the gender division of labor to ask: what are the historical, cultural, public policy, and business sources of current work-time practices? Topics addressed include work-time reduction in the US culminating in the 40-hour statute of 1938, recent trends in annual and weekly hours, overtime, part-time work, temporary employment, work-family integration, and international comparisons. She focuses on the US in a global context and explores how a new political economy of work time is taking shape.

This book brings together existing knowledge from sociology, anthropology, history, labor economics, and family studies to answer its central question and will change the way upper-level students think about the time we devote to work.
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List of Figures, Tables, and Boxes vii

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

1 From Field to Factory and Beyond 9

Original Affluence? 10

Medieval Church Time, Modern Clock Time 14

Commodified Time 18

Industrial Time-discipline 19

Time-work Discipline in the Twenty-first Century 25

Gendered Time 27

2 Work-time Reduction in the US 31

Citizenship, Leisure, Education, and Health 34

From Haymarket to Henry Ford 40

Work Sharing and Fair Labor 51

Two 30-hour Experiments 57

Conclusion 63

3 Current Trends 65

Annual Hours 66

Weekly Hours 69

Overtime 71

Non-standard Work 74

Non-standard Schedules 90

Hours Mismatches 92

4 Work–family, Work–life 96

From Family-based to Family Consumer Economy 97

Women’s Labor-force Participation 99

Family Structure and Employment Hours 102

Housework, Child Care, and Free Time 102

Work–family 108

Private Adaptations 109

Workplace and Public Policy Initiatives 114

Work–life 124

5 Work Time Outside the US 128

Work Hours in Industrialized Nations 128

Work Hours Regulations in Europe 136

Women’s Part-time Employment in Europe 148

Family Policies 151

European Couples’ Work-hour Strategies 158

Work Hours in Transition and Developing Countries 163

Work Hours Preferences 171

Conclusion 172

6 A New Political Economy of Work Time 174

The Electronic Cottage 178

Customized Time: Two Forms 180

Recommendations for Change 181

Work Time and Environmental Sustainability 187

Conclusion 191

Notes 195

References 201

Index 229

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Cynthia L. Negrey is Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Louisville.
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  • An engaging sociological overview of the complex web of relations that shapes our experience of work and life.
  • Focuses on an area that has previously not been explored adequately: what are the social causes and consequences of the accepted norms of working hours?
  • Covers topics such as recent trends in annual and weekly hours, overtime, part-time work, temporary employment, and work-family integration.
  • Brings together knowledge from sociology, anthropology, history, labour economics, and family studies, as well as internationally comparative material.
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"Cynthia Negrey has written an astute, thorough review of what we have learned about the issue of work time since the issue was put back on the table by Juliet Schor's The Overworked American. By placing the issue in historical context, and by providing a comparative framework for thinking about the American experience, her book succeeds in its goal of getting readers to think about how work time might be organized differently, in ways more compatible with the needs of a changing workforce."
Peter Meiksins, Cleveland State University

"Engaging and accessible, Work Time illustrates the historical development of the concept of time, then deftly weaves together the broad literature around the defining work-time innovations of our era, namely the transition to part-time, temporary, and other non-permanent forms of employment. By integrating the literature on today's work-time configurations and providing an international comparison of social policies aimed at supporting work-life balance, Negrey helps readers make sense of one of the most complex and significant issues of our times. Work Time is essential reading for students and a valuable resource for researchers, educators, and practitioners who are interested in work, gender, and the intersection of the two."
Anne Zacharias-Walsh, Solidarity Ink

"an excellent example of good sociological analysis which illuminates the underlying social characteristics of dominant institutions."
Contemporary Sociology

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