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In 2018, I developed the course, "The Politics of Working Time" (LBST 330) for the Labour Studies Program at Simon Fraser University and have taught it four times. Below is a compilation of the weekly topics we have covered and following that is a list of assigned and recommended readings for the course.

"The future isn't what it used to be"
In the early days of the 1956 presidential campaign, U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon envisioned the achievement of a four-day, 32-hour workweek in the "not too distant future." Sixty years later, the average workweek in the U.S. for full-time workers was 42.5 hours. Seventy percent of all employed persons worked 40 hours a week or more. In Canada about 60 percent of full-time workers and half of all employed workers work 40 hours a week or more. What happened? 

19th century British factory and trade union legislation
Campaigns for shorter working time drove two major changes in British industrial legislation. The ten-hour movement of the 1830s was answered by Factory Act legislation that limited the hours of work of children, The nine-hour movement of the 1860s introduced Frederic Harrison to the perspective he documented in a Royal Commission minority report that became the basis for trade union legislation.

History of economic thought about working time
Orthodox economic doctrine in the 19th century held that wages and hours of work were strictly determined by the "laws of supply and demand." Limitation of the hours of work time was decried as folly that would bankrupt employers and subsequently impoverish workers. These early prejudices were refuted in the early 20th century but made a strange return in post-WWII economics.

Economics of shorter hours and a living wage
Industrialist Thomas Brassey's On Work and Wages (1872) documented the positive feedback that higher wages and shorter hours contributed to worker productivity. According to the leading American economist of the day, Francis Walker, Brassey's study was "by far the most important body of evidence on the varying efficiency of labor..." a fact Alfred Marshall felt, "will be found to exercise a very complicating influence on the theory of Distribution." Marshall's pupil, Sydney Chapman, formalized the canonical theory of the hours of labour in 1909.

From the eight hour day to the thirty hour week
In the United States, the movement for an eight-hour day was formative for the American Federation of Labor in the 19th century. Ira Steward was the leading thinker of that movement. During the Depression of the 1930s, the movement for a 30-hour workweek led to the legislative enactment of collective bargaining rights. Arthur Dahlberg, who testified before a Senate subcommittee for the 30-hour bill, had a theory that was both similar to, and distinct from, Steward’s. 

Getting rid of the Black-Connery 30-hour bill 
In the U.S. the movement for an eight-hour day was formative for the American Federation of Labor in the 19th century. During the Depression of the 1930s, the movement for a 30-hour workweek led to the legislative enactment of collective bargaining rights.

The end of shorter hours
In addition to being a central issue in the history of labor movements, the appeal for the limitation of the hours of work was also a vital political issue, at least until the second half of the 20th century when, according to Ben Hunnicutt, it was displaced by consumerism.

The abandonment of collective action for labour/leisure 
According to Stanford economist John Pencavel, up until 1957 textbooks for labor economics attributed reductions in hours of work to collective action by trade unions needed to overcome resistance from employers. After publication of an influential paper by economist H. Gregg Lewis, textbooks echoed Lewis's explanation that workers choose their own hours, based on their preferences for income or leisure. Once again, for a new reason, collective action for limiting the hours of work was viewed with disdain by economists.

Work hours, reproduction and radical leisure
The division of labour in capitalism is profoundly and prejudicially gendered, with women performing the bulk of domestic work, while only waged labour "counts" as work in official statistics. Traditional movements for shorter working time reflected and reinforced patriarchy, often with "humanitarian" rationales. Kathi Weeks presents a feminist argument for shorter work time, arguing that the movement "should be conceived as both a demand and a perspective." She stresses the need for "the creation of new ways of living and new modes of subjectivity."

The Source and Remedy of the National Difficulties
An anonymous pamphlet published in 1821 formed a major influence on Karl Marx’s critique of political economy. As Giancarlo de Vivo argues there has been little attention paid to the pamphlet and its author despite the major influence it had. “…where men heretofore laboured twelve hours they would now labour six, and this is national wealth, this is national prosperity. After all their idle sophistry, there is, thank God! no means of adding to the wealth of a nation but by adding to the facilities of living: so that wealth is liberty––liberty to seek recreation––liberty to enjoy life––liberty to improve the mind: it is disposable time, and nothing more.”

The Commons: labour power as a common-pool resource
For Elinor Ostrom, common-pool resources are goods that don't fit tidily into the categories of either private or public goods. Human capacities to work have elastic but definite natural limits, which must be continuously restored and enhanced through nourishment, rest and social interaction. Over the longer term that capacity for labour also has to be replenished by a new generation of youth, reared by the previous generation. Regardless of whether work is paid or unpaid, the capacity to perform it is the outcome of an intrinsically social, co-operative activity. It is this combination of co-operation, definite limits and the need for continuous recuperation and replacement that gives labour-power the characteristics of a common-pool resource. 

Share the work and spare the planet
Studies have shown that reduced work time would make it easier to reach GHG reduction targets while maintaining employment levels. Shorter working time is a key element in proposals such as the U.K. Sustainable Development Commission's Prosperity without Growth. Yet, aside from that report, there has been little official recognition of the role that work time reduction might play in combatting climate change.

Only a Ten Hour Week?
The International Panel on Climate Change has reported that CO2 emissions need to fall by 45% below 2010 levels to avoid the possibility of overshooting 1.5° Celsius of global warming. There is a high correlation between employment and CO2 emissions. What would be the magnitude of the required transition expressed in working time? 

"The Roller Coaster of Immiseration": Economics of shorter hours revisited
Calculating the benefits and costs of varying hours of work is a complex undertaking that has oddly escaped close attention from accountants and economists. There are two possible explanations for this omission: the calculations are too complicated to undertake and/or experts prefer to use assumptions that confirm their biases. In this unit I will outline a methodology for doing a comprehensive calculation.

Covid-19 and the Politics of Working Time
Working time is always a “current event.” A large proportion of the working-age population spends 1/3 or more of their waking hours at work. But for many it took a pandemic to notice the large part that work plays in everyday life. We need policies to help us deal with the fallout from the Covid 19 pandemic such as guaranteed sick pay to ensure that people don’t come to work sick and spread infection and short time compensation to ensure that everyone who wants to work has an opportunity to do so. Continuing the theme of COVID-19 and the politics of working time this week we look at more far-reaching reforms of working time in the context of a “future of work” and at an innovative proposition suggesting that staggering of shorter work weeks could be a strategy for containing infection.

Assigned and recommended readings for LBST 330 (Spring, Fall 2020)

Annual Meeting of the Industrial Relations Research Association, Madison, WI, 1957, 196–206.

Ashford, N. , etal. (2020) Addressing Inequality: The First Step Beyond COVID-19 and Towards Sustainability, Sustainability, 2020, 12, 5404.

Bannai, A. , & Tamakoshi, A. (2014). The association between long working hours and health: A systematic review of epidemiological evidence. Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, 40(1),5-18.

Battye, J. (1979). The Nine Hour Pioneers: The Genesis of the Canadian Labour Movement. Labour / Le Travail, 4, 25-56.

Brassey, E. T. B. (1872) On Work and Wages. London: Bell and Daldy.

Burkett, P. (2000) Natural, social and political limits to work time: the contemporary relevance of Marx's analysis. in Working time: International trends, theory and policy perspectives, L. Golden & D. M. Figart, eds. , 143-158. London; New York: Routledge.

Cahill, M. C. (1932) Shorter Hours. New York: Columbia University.

Calvo, E. ,Haverstick, K. , & Sass, S. (2009). Gradual Retirement, Sense of Control, and Retirees' Happiness. Research on Aging, 31(1), 112-135.

Chapman, S. (1909) Hours of Labour technical footnote (pdf).

Chapman, S. (1909). Hours of Labour. The Economic Journal, 19(75), 353-373.

Cole, G. D. H. (1953) Attempts at General Union: a Studyin British Trade Union History, 1818-1834, 76-82 & 109-114.

Cross, G. (1989). A quest for time: The reduction of work in Britain and France,1840-1940. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Curthoys, M. C. (2004) Governments, Labour, and the Lawin Mid-Victorian Britain: The Trade Union Legislation of the 1870s, 97-116.

Cutler, J. (2004). Labor's time: shorter hours, the UAW, and the struggle for the American unionism. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Dahlberg, A. (1932) Jobs, Machines and Capitalism. New York: Macmillan

Dahlberg, Arthur, (1933) Statement to Senate Subcommittee on the Thirty Hour Work Week (pdf).

D'Alesa, G. and Cattaneo, C. (2013) Household Work and Energy Consumption: a Degrowth Perspective. Catalonia’s Case Study, Journal of Cleaner Production 38,71-79.

Danaher, J. (2017). Will Life Be Worth Living in a World Without Work? Technological Unemployment and the Meaning of Life. Science and Engineering Ethics,23(1), 41-64.

Dankert, C. (1962). Shorter Hours -- In Theory and Practice. Industrial & LaborRelations Review, 15(3), 307-322.

De Vivo, Giancarlo (2019) Marx’s Pamphletist: Charles Wentworth Dilke and His Tract on The Source and Remedy of the National Difficulties (1821) Contributions to Political Economy (2019) 38, 59-73

Dilke, C. W. (1821) The Source and Remedy of the National Difficulties, Contributions to Political Economy (2019) 38, 31-58.

Douglas, D. (1932). Ira Steward on Consumption and Unemployment. Journal of Political Economy, 40(4), 532-543.

Garicano , Luis (2020) The COVID-19 Bazooka for jobs in Europe, VOX CEPR Policy Portal

Gimbel, Martha Jesse Rothstein, Danny Yagan (2020) Jobs Numbers across Countries since COVID-19

Gorz, A. (1989). Critique of economic reason. London, New York: Verso.

Harrison, F. (1862) The Strike of the Stonemasons in London, 1861—1862. Papers and discussions on Social Economy: being the transactions of the fifth department of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science, meeting in London 1862, 22-34.

Harrison, F. (1872) Mr. Brassey on Work and Wages. Fortnightly Review, 12(3), September 1872, 268-286.

Harrison, F. (1911) Autobiographic Memoirs, 250-255.

Hayden, A. , & Shandra, J. (2009). Hours of work and the ecological footprint of nations: An exploratory analysis. Local Environment,14(6), 575-600.

Hermann, C. (2015). Capitalism and the political economy of work time. Abingdon, Oxon; New York, NY: Routledge.

Hunnicutt, B. (1988). Work without end: Abandoning shorter hours for the right to work. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.

Hunnicutt,B. (2013). Free time: The forgotten American Dream. Philadelphia: TempleUniversity Press.

Hunnicutt, B. K. (1984) The End of Shorter Hours. Labor History, 25(3), 373–404.

Ivanova, Iglika and Kendra Strauss, (2020) Paid sick leave finally on the agenda: Here’s why it matters CCPA Policy Note

Jennings A. {2004) Dead metaphors and living wages: on the role of measurement and logic in economic debates. In The institutionalist tradition in labor economics, D. P. Champlin and J. T. Knoedler, eds. ,131-145.

Keynes,J. M. (1930) Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren in Essays in Persuasion.

Lajeunesse, R. (1999). Toward an Efficiency Week. Challenge, 42(1), 92-109.

Leacock, S. (1920). The unsolved riddle of social justice. Toronto: S. B. Gundy.

Lewis, H. G. (1957) Hours of Work and Hours of Leisure. Paper presented at the Proceedings of the Ninth

Marx, K. (1887). "Senior's 'Last Hour'" in Capital: A critique of political economy, vol. 1, 215-219.

Nyland, C. (1986) Capitalism and the History of Worktime Thought. The British Journal of Sociology, 37(4), 513–534.

Omer K. et al. , (2020) Adaptive cyclic exit strategies to suppress COVID-19 and allow economic activity

Pencavel, J. (2016). Whose preferences are revealed in hours of work? Economic Inquiry, 54(1), 9-24.

Petridis, R. (1996) Brassey's Law and the Economy of High Wages in Nineteenth-Century Economics. History of Political Economy,28(4), 583–606.

Pitts, F. H. & Dinerstein, A. C. (2017) Postcapitalism, Basic Income and the End of Work: A Critique and Alternative. Bath Papers I nInternational Development and Wellbeing. University of Bath. http://www. bath. ac. uk/cds/publications/bdp55. pdf

Postone, M. (1978). Necessity, Labor, and Time: A Reinterpretation of the Marxian Critique of Capitalism. Social Research, 45(4), 739-788.

Prasch R. E. (2000) Reassessing the Labor Supply Curve. Journal of Economic Issues,34(3), 679-692.

Roediger, D. R. and Foner, P. S. (1989) Our own time: A history of American labor and the working day. New York: Greenwood Press.

Royal Commission on Trades Unions (1871) Dissent III.

Shippen, N. M. (2014) Decolonizing Time: work, leisure, and freedom. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Sirianni, C. , & Negrey, C. (2000). Working Time as Gendered Time. Feminist Economics, 6(1), 59-76.

Swidler, E. (2016) Radical Leisure. Monthly Review,68(2), 26–34.

Thompson, E. P. (1967) Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism. Past and Present, 38(1), 70-97.

Walker, T. "The IPCC 1. 5° C Report and the Ten-Hour Week. " pdf

Walker, T. (2007). Why economists dislike a lump of labor. Review of Social Economy, 65(3), 279-291.

Walker, T. (2011) The Hours of Labour and the Problem of Social Cost, Marshall Studies Bulletin.

Walker, T. (2013) Time on the Ledger: Social Accounting for the Good Society, in Towarda good society in the twenty-first century: Principles and policies. N. Karagiannis and J. Marangos, eds. , New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 227-247.

Walker, T. “The Roller Coaster of Immiseration. ” pdf

Weeks, K. (2009). "Hours for What We Will": Work, Family, and the Movement for Shorter Hours. Feminist Studies, 35(1),101-127.

Weeks, K. (2011). The problem with work: Feminism, Marxism, antiwork  politics, and postwork imaginaries. Durham: Duke University Press.

Zwickl, Disslbacher, & Stagl. (2016). Work-sharing for a sustainable economy. Ecological Economics, 121, 246-253.