Thompson & Time

E.P. Thompson in his article “Time, Work-Discipline, & Industrial Capitalism,” examines how the way humanity tells time has evolved over the course of time itself.  As a scholar influenced by the Marxist School of Interpretation, Thompson assumes the position that as opposed to having been either influenced, or created, by individuals, both infamous as well as anonymous, history has been shaped, and in some ways solidified, by the changing of trends; both practically and philosophically over time.  To this end, he analyzes the way time was tracked before the advent of electricity.  Thompson contends that in more agrarian societies, defined primarily by farming and trading, the measure of time was determined by how long it took for an egg to cook, or the various aspects of daily work routines.  Prior to the advent of Industrial Capitalism, an individuals workday was not measured by standardized periods of time because their labors, specifically the fruits of, were not grouped in with the collective efforts of others.  As the world found itself more in the throws Industrial Revolution, a more systematized standard for measuring time was necessary.  This was vital to determine two key criteria: productivity and profit.  Hence: “time is money,” as Thompson claims.  Put simply: the measuring of time is necessary to determine how much profit a business can make and how much a worker should be paid according to his worth.

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