E P Thompson on the clocks going forward

In Uncategorized on March 26, 2023 by kmflett

E P Thompson on the clocks going forward

Clocks have gone forward or back in Britain to mark summer or winter time for around a century. There are debates about how daylight is lost or gained as a result and the impact of this and these continue.

Behind that however lies an industrial obsession with time and the market capitalist idea that time is money.

A common theme of the clocks going forward for summer is that those who are not working overnight will get one less hour in bed. The subtext there is perhaps whether an hour lost is necessarily such a bad idea.

After all from the 1880s the labour movement campaigned for the 8 hour working day, which is also meant 8 hours for recreation and 8 hours for rest.

EP Thompson’s Time, Work Discipline which appeared in Past and Present in 1967, remains a foundation text.

To give a brief flavour, he writes of ‘Smilesian snippets about humble men who by rising early and diligence, made good’. He continues that as workers secured reductions in working hours moralists became concerned that ‘manual workers after concluding their work were left with several hours in the day to be spent nearly as they please’.

So that one hour lost means that pub opening time is in fact one hour nearer on a Sunday.


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