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"This struggle about the legal restriction of the hours of labor raged the more fiercely since, apart from frightened avarice, it told indeed upon the great contest between the blind rule of the supply and demand laws which form the political economy of the middle class, and social production controlled by social foresight, which forms the political economy of the working class." --Karl Marx, Inaugural Address of the International Working Men’s Association

The trouble with Time Use statistics is that The Big Question is subordinated to an Even Bigger Question that is left unstated and implicit. In this paradigm, "social production controlled by social foresight" comes as an afterthought. Better an afterthought than no thought at all? Possibly not.

Why can't we HONESTLY have two co-existing political economies, the political economy of the economists and the "political economy of the working class" and permit them to radiate insights onto each other? But no. There is one and only one hegemonic political economy and questions that cannot be answered from scrutinizing "the blind rule of the laws of supply and demand" must be treated as subordinate, peripheral... "external" to the really, really important question of How Big is the GDP and How Can We Make It Even Bigger?

Sandwichman - I'm not sure that I precisely understand your comment, but I would say that it's important to distinguish between time use statistics in the satellite national account sense and statistics about time use.

I have a lot of reservations about the agenda of using time use statistics to put a value on unpaid household work and include that number in the national income accounts - perhaps you do too. Not that I see a great deal of harm in it, I just don't think it does a lot.

But knowing how people spend their time is absolutely crucial when it comes to formulating specific policies that benefit the so-called working class. E.g. think about the amount of time it takes people who don't have a car to go grocery shopping, or take kids to after school activities. One of the best ways of understanding how other people live is to find out how they spend their time.

"think about the amount of time it takes people who don't have a car to go grocery shopping"

Which requires information about urban spatial arrangements, the opportunity cost of the time spent working to pay for the car etc., etc. all of which are elided "givens" in the diarization of time use.

How much leisure do the unemployed have? What "choices" do people make when they are faced with an extremely limited range of choices? Few to none would be my answer.

A BIG question then might be "what do people struggle for politically (in terms specifically of time use) when and if they struggle?"

Or, what if people could get together and talk about time use and develop scenarios based on different possibilities and then choose between those scenarios?

There are myriad ways questions about time use could be approached. Time use surveys adopt a format that presumes the normativity of categories of paid work, unpaid work and leisure as distinct realms of activity that can be quantified with little attention paid to the qualities of each. This paradigm is both historically specific and privileges an "expert" class perspective. Not that there is anything wrong with that -- other than its limitation. All social investigation is historically specific and perspectival.

But there IS something wrong with the hegemony of that perspective. There is something wrong with the rejection of the counter-hegemonic perspectives as "false", "incomprehensible" or peripheral. As John Stuart Mill wrote in On Liberty, "He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that."

“He who knows only his own side of the case knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side, if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion... Nor is it enough that he should hear the opinions of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them... he must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form.”

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