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Section 2: How much are you worth?
How much are you worth?
Read about industrialisation and you will read about the length of the working day and the intensity of work done during it. But how do we put a value on time? This is where society really makes its mark. Western society puts a higher value on the time of a manager than a cleaner.

Western society puts a higher value on the time of a manager than a cleaner

 This manifests itself in more ways than in the wages taken home. If the boss is late for a meeting with subordinates, no-one is surprised. But if the subordinate is late, the boss won’t wait. Yet while most cultures share this pract
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Even when work ends we're still slaves to time.
Credit: NMPFT
ice of differential valuation, the notion of lateness – of what constitutes ‘late’ for any given circumstance – varies widely. Take our business meeting, for example. Not a life-or-death event. For some, an hour late would hardly be late at all, but for others a ten-minute delay would be time for the sack.

What is less obvious, perhaps, is people’s ability to have several different valuation rates within themselves, brought into play at differe
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Even in our 'free' time we keep pedalling the treadwheel.
Credit: NMPFT
nt times of the day, or week, or lifetime. The company director who spends her weekends tending an allotment or lazing on a yacht has a weekend value rate which is very different from the weekday. Her weekends are ‘leisure time’ or ‘spare time’, even if she spends them growing food to eat or fixing the house up. Should she spend it reading magazines or watching the TV, she would be ‘wasting’ time. This is a relatively new concept, a remnant of the Puritan work ethic that helped shape our view of the industrialised world.

Back in the Middle Ages, the idea that time could go spare for leisure use never occurred to the peasants, even though many of them were wage-slaves too. Time after the ‘working day’ – hard-won, then as now – was spent doing personal work. The work may not have been too different from that of the company director today but the moral value placed on it has certainly shifted.
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Whose time? Whose money?
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Time isn’t money. It’s what people do with their time that gets the capitalists excited. This section looks at the way time and money became entwined in our minds and lives, and how, despite notions of an idyllic rural past, we’ve always been wage-slaves.  > more

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We’ve always been clock-watchers. What’s changed is the clocks we’ve watched. This section looks at the machines, gadgets and gizmos we have invented, made and used to keep track of the working day, and the ways in which we try to control lives with clocks.  > more
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