One of the standards battles I find most fascinating is how we allocate time. Institutions battle for a share: work, good works, civic life, hobbies, study, family, exercise, networking… The activities that demand rendezvous with others, what we might call social these days, demand coordinated points of rendezvous. I like that one of the arguments for the 40 hour work week was that it would enable civic engagement. On the battle field of time religious institutions have lost a lot of ground over the last century, while commercial institutions have successfully grabbed most of that real estate. I can recall a time when the only thing that could be forgiven for keeping the Sabbath was the occasional pharmacy.
I was reminded of this by an item about an attempt to regulate how people spend their time. In this case a ban on cell phone use in cars. What leapt out at me – a few sacred institutions managed to get an exception to the ban: “There are a few exceptions, however, including emergency phone calls, and calls to parents, children or a spouse.” So in this case family won. But, clearly this is an anti-business regulatory overreach; do I not need to call my subordinates!
Here some other links:
- Fun interactive chart from the NYTimes.
- That is based on the Census’s Time Use survey.
- An examples of what can be done with that data which in this case consisted of “one record per survey participant which contains information about the person (sex, age, race, employment status, etc.) along with the amount of time that the person spent doing a particular task (ex. washing dishes, watching TV, etc.) on a single day”.
- For example this chart is fun – reading for pleasure increases with age, more if you’ve had a lot of schooling. Who are these people with an hour a day to spare for pleasurable reading?
- Here’s a chart showing hours work/week since 1900; notice the recessions.
It is possible (likely?) that the book about the work week is “Our own time : a history of American labor and the working day” by David R. Roediger and Philip S. Foner