(un)common ground

a commonplace book

Time Thrift and Work Ethic

The attempt to tame the body of its unprofitable tendency to tire began [in the sixteenth century] as an effort to make ‘saving time’ a moral issue. … Moralists urged ‘time thrift,’ and framed the waste of time as summoning divine punishment. … Paternalist and colonialist discourses, whether in addressing the English poor or indigenous people from developing countries, represented idleness as a trait of those who are ‘naturally inferior.’ … [T]ime discipline was seen as essential for the transition to ‘mature societies.’

Eman Shahata, “The Clock Inside Us,” The New Inquiry, Dec. 14, 2015

This colonial-capitalist discourse still appears in talk about former colonial populations. Talk about people in Latin America or Africa inevitably includes evaluation of their work ethic tied with conceptions of time–both characteristically in a negative relation to Western ideals of timeliness and dedication to work.


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This entry was posted on January 17, 2016 by and tagged , , , .
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