RE: [OPE] Working Overtime Is Linked to Depression, Anxiety

Date: Sat Jun 21 2008 - 08:57:38 EDT

> I don't deny that unemployment and overwork is conducive to crime and disease, 
> that is well documented as Jerry says. It's just that in my experience many people 
> are unemployed or overworked for reasons which have more to do with personal 
> factors, perceptions/prejudices, and social or power relations, than the real availability 
> of suitable jobs or the objective need to work more hours. Workaholics do not not 
> primarily work extra because they need to, but compulsively.

Hi Jurriaan:

There are "workaholics" - in both the working class and other social classes - 
but one shouldn't look at _social_ problems primarily through the lens of 
_individual and personal_ experience.  As you know from your experience with 
statistical analysis, there is often a wide gulf between popular perceptions 
and experience as statistically measured. Another danger - which both historians 
and economists are familiar with - is the fallacy of composition. 

One of the great transformations of the working class internationally since the 
1970s has been the entry of women in larger numbers as waged workers. It
would be easy to look at that issue from the perspective of individual women 
we have known and the personal choices they have made.  But, there was 
something larger at play - and this directly relates to the question of working
overtime: inflation had eroded real wages to the point where increasingly
families found that women had to work in order to maintain the same standard
of living. This necessity is even more clearly the case in single-parent homes
(itself a trend in some capitalist social formations since the early 1970s).
Economic necessity is a force which can help to explain the social trend of
working increased hours of work.  Other social factors are also relevant, including 
capitalist control over the labor process and therefore their ability to require overtime 
(hours of work are generally a "management prerogative"), job insecurity
(the rational fear that workers in non-union jobs have that refusing requests to
work overtime could lead to job loss), and decreasing state social insurance
programs (part and parcel of Neo-Liberalism, enforced through international
lending agencies such as the World Bank and the IMF).  

Additionally, one could view "social and power relations", "the real availability
of suitable jobs" (which relates more to structural unemployment than
frictional unemployment which you mentioned), and _social_ "perceptions/
prejudices" as all related to social necessity. 

In solidarity, Jerry
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