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Time and the Sociology of Work: Issues and Implications


Epstein, Cynthia Fuchs & Kalleberg, Arne L. (2001). Time and the Sociology of Work: Issues and Implications. Work and Occupations, 28(1), 5-16.


This special issue of Work and Occupations is devoted to exploring time as a factor in analyzing work and the workplace. Social norms specifying how much time people should spend at work are nearly as old as the rules specifying a division of labor (Durkheim, 1902/1947). Patterns of time use are socially constructed. They are supported by cultural traditions that have permitted and forbidden work at various times and are shaped by powerful individuals and groups who have required and persuaded individuals to work according to their dictates. Of course, social rules or conventions regarding work time have been constrained by such realities as season, the length of day and night, and the physical limits of human capacity. Although often regarded as inevitable, these limiting conditions have been altered through the ages through the use of technology, innovations of organizational structure, and redefinitions of human capacity. For example, harnessing electricity made it possible to work at night as well as during the day, and telephones and computers have altered the boundaries of space and distance so that individuals can work leisurely or hard depending on their desire or subjection to the wishes of others. These considerations also underscore the political nature of time allocation as gatekeepers devise or use ideologies in determining time agendas. Of course, like all leaders, they may face resistance from those most affected.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Work and Occupations


Epstein, Cynthia Fuchs
Kalleberg, Arne L.