Thursday, September 07, 2006

Tom Lutz expounds on one the key reasons I look forward to an academic career: flexible hours.
But we academics do have something few others possess in this postindustrial world: control over our own time. All the surveys point to this as the most common factor in job satisfaction. The jobs in which decisions are made and the pace set by machines provide the least satisfaction, while those, like mine, that foster at least the illusion of control provide the most.
Lutz, implicitly promoting his book, goes on to paint a picture I hadn't seen before of late 19th century American manufacturing workers as a bunch of drunken loafers who demanded to come and go from work as they pleased.
American manufacturing laborers came and left for the day at different times. “Monday,” one manufacturer complained, was always “given up to debauchery,” and on Saturdays, brewery wagons came right to the factory, encouraging workers to celebrate payday.
During much of the 19th century, there were more strikes over issues of time-control than there were about pay or working hours.
It's good that Monday is no longer given up to debauchery, but something I'd like to see just once in my life is a brewery wagon drive by on a hot Saturday afternoon. It could be like an ice cream truck, perhaps with German music...


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