(OPE-L) Pietro Basso (was: the _struggle_ over the length...)

From: Rakesh Bhandari (rakeshb@STANFORD.EDU)
Date: Wed Jun 25 2003 - 17:14:07 EDT

The book can be ordered; there are even used copies already
available. I hope you track it down as I would be most interested in
what you have to say about the problems which Basso raises. If I
remember correctly,  labor and subcontracting relations in the VW
operations in Brazil are an important example of the trends that
Basso sees at work.
I think fellow OPE-L'er Paul Adler may be interested in this book as
Basso presents a criticism of Paul's theorization of Toyota-ism.
yours, rb

Here's Barnes and Noble:


Here's Amazon:

And here's Basso's own website:


Modern Times, Ancient Hours: Working Lives in the Twenty-First Century
by Pietro Basso, Giacomo Donis (Translator)

Product Details

     * Hardcover: 288 pages ; Dimensions (in inches): 1.00 x 8.34 x 6.38
     * Publisher: Verso Books; (June 2003)
     * ISBN: 1859845657

Book Description
It is a commonly expressed view that the sickness of our society is
unemployment. Less frequently argued is the fact that we are, at the
same time, suffering from overwork. It is even more rare to hear that
the two sicknesses, unemployment and overwork, feed off one another
and jointly attack the working classes worldwide.

In Modern Times, Ancient Hours Pietro Basso argues convincingly that
the average working time of wage labourers is more intense,
fast-paced, flexible, and longer than at any period in recent
history. This is true, he posits, not only in industry and
agriculture, but also, and particularly, in the service industry. In
this comprehensive survey of all the Western countries, not just the
US, he demonstrates that extraordinary work pressure is increasing
throughout. The introduction of the thirty-five-hour working week in
France notwithstanding, all the signs of a creeping deterioration in
the working lives of millions of people are explored: a reduction in
the purchasing power of wages, the mass downsizing of corporations,
the continual erosion of company and state-ensured benefits, and
finally the availability of much cheaper labour from Latin America,
Asia, Africa and eastern Europe.

The only sensible response is a renewal of the working-class
struggle. Modern Times, Ancient Hours forcefully reminds us that the
human aspiration to do work that does not break the body or the
spirit is universal and deep-rooted. Workers will rise, Basso argues,
if they continue to be pushed beyond their limits.

About the Author
Pietro Basso is Professor of Sociology at the University of Venice.

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