Courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald’s new blog, Radar (note to SMH: if you’re going to have a blog, please link to it on the front page!), some thoughts about why younger Australians are often working a 70 hour week.
In Australia, contrary to a long secular trend (and in defiance of 60s futurism which had us all a la Marx’ fantasies of communism, working for a few hours a day and agonising over how to spend our leisure time), working hours have been on the rise for quite some time.
I used to take a tutorial for first year Business students which examined Charles Handy’s concept of portfolio lives. There’s no doubt that the world which still existed (just) when I left high school – of careers for life in large white collar organisations such as the public service, banks and insurance companies – is gone. And that a career change, which I’m contemplating at the moment, is often a good move. My students were often enthusiastic about the prospect of working independently and harnessing their skills and creativity. But they often also had unrealistic expectations of their future (it’s amazing what the marketing of a Management major can inspire…).
Sociologist Zygmunt Bauman once wrote that in modernity we traded freedom for security and in postmodernity we’ve sacrificed security for freedom. As people grow older, and start thinking about mortgages, families, and security, how attractive is the notion of a portfolio life and long hours climbing the ladder of opportunity?
ELSEWHERE: The inimitable MsFits has some reflections on full-time work.
And the British DTI has a good summary of the international research literature on long hours.