E.P Thompson & Unnatural Time

According to Alan Sears and James Cairns from one of our current textbooks, A Good Book, In Theory, following clocks is something relevantly something new among people and we has humans have relied on the natural cycles to organize our daily lives (2010, p. 137). Reading this today, we might find this odd because most of us may have been born around unnatural cycles and dealt with it our whole lives.

Though we might think, it is not so bad because with this unnatural cycle, clocks, we can trace back memories, moments, to any particular time we want. When you get married, when you have your first child, first home, first job, or first anything, there is a clock for you to look at and remember when it happened. On the other hand, there is a clock too for the bad times such as deaths, break ups, losing a job, and much more. Therefore, clocks can be a double edge sword.

Besides the emotional attachments that clocks can give us, E.P Thompson argues that clocks are “related to new forms of discipline associated with capitalist work relations…”(Sears and James, p. 139). Which is true if you think about your current job that you have right now. It is probably hourly based isn’t it? Managers, CEOs, the government want to know how much time you are taking to do to your work. By going by this clock, it tells you how much time you have spent doing a job and because of that, your job can determine how much you deserve to be paid.

I can relate this to my own personal job on campus that was a stipend paid job and not by the hour. It was so you can say, clock base, in the form that by the end of the semester I need to complete certain tasks. By completing those tasks, I get my paid amount. However, recently, during our winter break, University of Wisconsin system has changed their way about stipend paid jobs in the universities in Wisconsin. Stipend jobs must now be hourly jobs and must be converted into ways employees can be paid based on the hour.

Reasons to this change is due to health insurance issues that the University of Wisconsin system has stated, but I do not know much about that side of it.

Looking at this though, one can see that this can be a form of the capitalist work relations that Thompson spoke about. Instead of having my own clock to complete tasks, I must now follow these new University of Wisconsin System rules in order to determine my pay. It has its ups and downs, but by having this new policy all employees who were stipend are now watched and regulated by the system.

— Maikou Lor

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One thought on “E.P Thompson & Unnatural Time

  1. It would be interesting to look at how individuals could gain certain advantages from the clock from a transactionalist point of view.

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