covid-19 is an opportunity to rethink how we work
For decades, the distinction between work and leisure time has been fading away. We can’t afford a return to that old ‘normal’ – after Covid-19, we must fight for a future where workers control their lives.
after a tiring week, the desire to rest over the weekend seems only natural. but as i lie on the sofa, having a leisurely read, the sound of the clock ticking becomes deafening. the cuckoo strikes at the hour. as it recedes back into its nest, i notice its accusatory glare, as if to remind me that another hour has passed me by, and that time that can never be regained. as i sit up, i ask myself, could i have been more productive?
the feeling of guilt as we agonise over a ‘wasted’ day can’t be separated from neoliberalism’s tightened grip over our psyches. as we internalise market relations our own mind constantly demands productivity. it becomes difficult to avoid the feeling that activities which aren’t rooted in productivity are without value.
in time, work-discipline and industrial capitalism, e.p. thompson discussed how the industrial revolution saw the imposition of time discipline and established the centrality of the clock. his work traces the changes in the apprehension of time within western europe, where he notes that time measurement enabled farmers in the mid-seventeenth century to begin calculating their expectations of how much work their employees would be able to complete during a shift.
time, as the saying goes, became money — more specifically the employer’s money, and thompson highlights how it evolved to a point where “it is not passed but spent.”
more here: by Daniella Adeluwoye in tribune