“The length of the workday, notions of time, and struggles for leisure”

2nd European Labor History Network (ELHN) Conference: “The length of the workday, notions of time, and struggles for leisure from the pre-industrial to the post-industrial era: Methods, concepts, challenges”
November 2–4, 2017, Paris


  • European Labor History Network (ELHN)

We invite contributions for a session on “Time and Work” at the 2nd European Labor History Network (ELHN) Conference that will take place from November 2–4, 2017 in Paris. Following years of virtual neglect in academia and beyond, the length of the workday has resurfaced as one of the burning issue for European labor. From the bitter strikes in crisis-ridden Greece to the French labor law protests of 2016, struggles against the extension of working hours feature prominently in present-day mobilization. At the same time, persistent trends in production (automation, digitalization, acceleration, etc.) and welfare-state policy (employment, retirement, working-time accounts, etc.) brought working hours back to the forefront of public debate. Against this backdrop, labor historians have recently begun to revisit earlier historiography on working time. In so doing, they launched new innovative research projects and established new institutional centers for the study of working time.

This ELHN session aims at providing a forum for these fresh yet hitherto mostly unconnected approaches. We invite papers that study the shifting realities of working and non-working time from the pre-industrial to the post-industrial era. Rather than collecting national accounts of numerical change, the session hopes to explore economic, social, political, and cultural aspects of working hours across time and space. The session is particularly interested in comparative contributions.

Topics may include but are not limited to:

  • Comparisons of working time in pre-/post-industrial vs. industrial settings; working time in different sectors (agriculture, industries, services); working time in formal and informal labor
  • Demands for leisure and working-class notions of time
  • Long-term changes of working hours in comparative perspective
  • Working-time regimes from empire to colony
  • Working time in “free” and “un-free” labor systems
  • Working hours and productivity
  • Employers’ perspectives and new managerial approaches towards shorter hours
  • Gender aspects of working time
  • Working time of minorities
  • Changes of working time in the life-course

The deadline for abstracts (c. 300 words) was May 21, 2017.

This text is a copy of the announcement made by Philipp Reick on May 7th, 2017 on networks.h-net.org.

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