[lbo-talk] Why Is America So Violent?

wrobert at uci.edu wrobert at uci.edu
Sun May 13 16:36:06 PDT 2007

Without disagreeing with you completely, I would like to add something to this conversation. While it is true that earlier time periods had a longer work day, sometimes going up to 13 hour days, what the work day consisted of was frequently quite different. This would include sneaking off to drink. One could argue that the 8 hour movement really came with the shift in production that occurred in the 1830's onward (I am calling back to a labor history background from over a half a decade so I might be wrong on some of the details here.) In any case, there was a demand for a more disciplined workforce a la Thompson. This also links up with the narrative of modes of mechanization, which made be drunk on the job a little more dangerous than it previously had. I suspect this lead to a rethinking of spending a lot of time at the workplace, which had previously been quite different in its tempo and modes of sociability. All of this is a long way of saying that the intensity of the labor as well as its length is significant (hopefully this isn't too off topic and I am not making universal claims on labor history, but rather am making a specific reference to the U.S. experience.) robert wood

> Is that really true? The 40-hour week was a major victory for the
> working class - in the 19th century, the workweek was a hell of a lot
> longer. Americans may be working more now than in the 1950s or 1960s,
> and certainly the population as a whole is working longer (for pay
> that is) than then. But that was an anomalous period in many ways, so
> it all depends on what your point of comparison is.
> Doug
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