Catalogue


Modern times, ancient hours : working lives in the twenty-first century /
Pietro Basso ; edited and translated by Giacomo Donis.
edition
Updated and expanded ed.
imprint
London ; New York : Verso, 2003.
description
275 p. : ill. ; 22 cm.
ISBN
1859845657
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
London ; New York : Verso, 2003.
isbn
1859845657
general note
Translated from the Italian.
catalogue key
4998510
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [217]-264) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Pietro Basso is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Masters course in Immigration at the University of Venice, Italy.
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2004-01-01:
Basso (sociology, Univ. of Venice) believes that average working hours for wage earners have increased in Western capitalist nations in the last 25 years. Basso's thesis suggests this gradual return to the "ancient hours" of the 19th century is associated with greater income inequality and fast-paced work. Advanced technologies, the growth of service industries, cheap labor from the Third World, and oppressive government policies have contributed to worker hardship. Much theoretical background and the terminology of this book come from Keynesian and Marxist economic principles. Through tables and graphs, Basso analyzes the trends of working hours throughout the 20th century. Data come from Eurostat, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and various UN agencies. Significant sections of the book examine data collection and analysis problems. The author provides extended case studies about business and government work hour policies in Germany, France, and Italy. This volume is well translated from the original Italian (1998) version. Ivar Berg and Arne Kalleberg's Sourcebook of Labor Markets (CH, Feb'02) provides a broader theoretical background. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Business and economics graduate students and faculty interested in a considerable European literature base concerning business trends. G. E. Kaupins Boise State University
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2003-07-01:
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) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
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.
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.
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.
'oeBasso 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.'
'oeAs 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.'
This item was reviewed in:
Publishers Weekly, July 2003
Choice, January 2004
Globe & Mail, May 2004
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
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.
Unpaid Annotation
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 labourers 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, not just the US, he demonstrates that extraordinary work pressure is increasing throughout. 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 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 labour 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.
Main Description
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.
Bowker Data Service Summary
The West suffers from intense work pressure, longer and less well paid hours. This text is a sociological analysis of the relationship between overwork and unemployment. The only possible response, the author claims, is a renewal of the working class struggle.
Table of Contents
Introductionp. 1
The Question of Working Hoursp. 10
Long-term Trends 1945-89p. 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
The Confirmation of the 1990sp. 57
The Diffusion of Toyotaism
The Diffusion of Variable Hours
The Diffusion of Shiftwork
The Diffusion of Neoliberal Policies
(Official) Hours and Labour Productivity
A Reply to Some Objectionsp. 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
Second European Survey on Working Conditionsp. 140
Vietnam: 24-hour Continuous Shiftsp. 147
Towards the 35- or the 45-hour Week?p. 150
The German Case
The French Case
The Italian Case
Modern Times, Ancient Hours: An Enigma?p. 183
Theses of Neoliberalismp. 183
First Elements of a Critical Analysisp. 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
Notesp. 217
Indexp. 265
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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