Time Blind pp 47-69 | Cite as

Chapter 3 “Hours Don’t Make Work”: Kairos, Chronos, and the Spirit of Work in Trinidad

  • Kevin K. Birth


Marx wrote, “Just as motion is measured by time, so is labour by labour-time … Labour-time is measured in terms of the natural units of time, i.e., hours, days, weeks, etc.” (1970, 30, emphasis in original). Marx’s “natural units of time” are cultural creations. Even the idea of the day varies according to when it begins and ends, and whether it is measured in reference to mean time or reckoned in relationship to daily observations of solar cycles. While Marx is normally not identified with theories of scientific management, such as that of Frederick Winslow Taylor, the cultural logic that undergirds Marx’s idea of labor-time is the same as that which undergirds Taylor’s scientific management and time studies. In a way, both Marx and Taylor reflect the transformation from a task orientation to a time orientation in representing labor that E.P. Thompson documents in his article “Time, Work-Discipline, and Industrial Capitalism” (1967).


Clock Time Average Labor Neoclassical Economic Industrial Capitalism Empty Time 
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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin K. Birth
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyQueen’s College, CUNYFlushingUSA

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