Whose time is it anyway?

Winter 2014

Sarah Benton reflects on the ways in which capital tries to keep wage costs down by shifting work away from employees, to instead be carried out by consumers of their services, in their own time. Free goods, for example free communication and information-gathering in the form of email, Facebook and Twitter, sees unpaid labour carried out by the users. Despite this, the owner-provider cannot entirely dispense with the need for human interaction when faced with difficulties. The article goes on to examine the privatisation of essential services, for example the role of carer and prisons owned by companies such as Serco, as an indication of the desire to deskill labour as a result of twentieth-century capitalism and a development of dehumanised workers. The article concludes by examining the alienation of personal time _ where one’s own time is appropriated by the employer. This is in the context of the modern phenomenon of a lack of time amongst middle-class women due to the rising pressures of domestic and household responsibilities.

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Soundings 58 Dialogue and memory