— Mae D'Amico, History in the Making

E.P. Thompson, Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism

E.P. Thompson’s article is fundamentally about human perception of time and how it changed over the years.  At first time was something that just passed until, Thompson argues, time became a commodity– that people exchanged their time and services for money.  Thompson’s thesis is that human progression into industrial capitalism influenced our apprehension as to the function of time.

Thompson asks the simple research questions, how was time spent prior to industrial capitalism.  In some cultures time was related to how farm chores progressed or with a sundial.  How did the clock from there revolutionize time?  What did the pocket watch mean to people?  How did the relationship between time, bosses, and workers change with this new comprehension?

The conclusion seems to be that Thompson was correct, the relationship between employer, employee, and the dreaded clock became an intimate one over time.  He concludes that this change developed unnoticeably but many things progress like this in history.  It is a very interesting piece because most people nowadays just assume that this is how things have always been, but then, so everyone has assumed that in history.

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