Working Longer Hours: Pressure from the Boss or Pressure from the Marketers?
Review of Social Economy, 1997, vol. 55, issue 1, 33-65
The century-long decline in the amount of time spent working for income has been reversed over the last twenty-five years. By one account, this reversal is primarily traceable to a rise in the power fo employers who find more work hours per employee to be in their interest. By another account, that I argue to be the more convincing, the major cause of the change is the growing sophisticated of advertising and marketing which has stimulated demand and led to voluntarydecisions to work more. Education is presented as an example of the effects that rising “marketization” has on a product's nature. Decreased hours of study and grade inflation are offered as two examples of the crowding out of production for oneself at the expense of production for sale in the market. While no attempt is made to draw clear normative conclusions regarding educational trends, the paper concludes with a normative assessment of the trend toward greater time spent in the workplace. I argue that the historically recent rise of “workaholism” suggests that for at least a portion of the workforce, market forces have created preferences to work more that are ranked lower than what they replace; that the overworked American is too often one in the grip of an unpreferred preference regarding work.
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