The Social Economics of Work Time: Introduction
Deborah Figart and
Lonnie Golden ()
Review of Social Economy, 1998, vol. 56, issue 4, 411-424
How do social economists conceptualize and analyze time, particularly time spent in paid employment? In this symposium regarding this quite “timely”" issue, it is evident that social economics views work time as something more than its presentation in neoclassical economics. For neoclassical economists, time is a scarce resource that, when commodified as labor, serves as a factor of production and means to the end of consumption for optimizing firms, individuals, and families. It is also more than the radical political economics understanding of time as the yardstick measuring the value created by labor. Instead, time spent on the job is all at once a source of income, personal identity, and relative status within society, the workplace and household, and a constraint on individuals' ability to pursue self-directed activities and social reproduction. Work time is determined within a complex web of evolving culture and social relations, as well as traditionally conceived market, technological, and macroeconomic forces and institutions such as collective bargaining and government policy.
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