What do a sociologist who wins prizes from economics, a Trappist monk, a former Princeton University school of public affairs Dean, and a best-selling cookbook author have in common? Their work all concerns the dangerous, unsustainable, even violent nature of busyness and overwork.
Perhaps because my position at Concordia is in a time of transition as we consider the possibility of me taking on some new responsibilities, I’ve been primed in recent weeks to notice this theme. Also, in a strange way, I remind myself of a previous post about work “Full Not Busy” from time to time. But what of these diverse voices concerning work, time, and busyness?
It all started when Juliet Schor spoke at the college’s fall Symposium on Faith, Reason, and World Affairs on the topic of work and sustainability. Schor’s lecture was several weeks ago now, so it’s a bit hazy, but one point in particular stuck with me. Schor showed several graphs concerning the length of average work weeks and annual hours worked. In the U.S., like most countries, over time we have reduced the average workweek—the trend is clear from 1950 onward. But, in the past generation or so, while most other countries have continued to decrease annual hours worked, the U.S. has remained steady.
In short, even as the U.S. has increased productivity and relied more on technology, we have not decreased the amount of time Americans work since 1980 or so.« Continue »