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Essay: Mechanical Time, Modernity, and the Division of Labor

Jeanice Banttari

Integration Paper/GS430

Professor Julia Klimova

            Mechanical Time, Modernity, and the Division of Labor

      The culture and economy of today are different than in the past. There have

been many different events that have transpired which have helped to transform

things into how they are today. Mechanical time, modernity, and the division of

labor are but a few of the important events which have occurred that have

helped to shape and define the current existence of our culture and economy.

      One of the things that mechanical time, modernity, and the division of

labor all share in common is that they help to define our culture and

economy of today. "Modernity and its handmaiden industrial capitalism, have

transformed much besides kinship, work, and personal values, they have

reshaped, extended, and universalized such concepts as time, space, measure,

and value" (Porter, p.64). The concept of time was reshaped, extended, and

universalized when the clock was invented. This transformed the traditional

concept of time, then known as organic time to the concept that we are all

familiar with today - mechanical time. With organic time, if one was a

farmer, all that had to be done was to make time to harvest the crop. When

mechanical time came along, all aspects of life were timed such as getting

to work on time, making a certain amount of product by a certaint time,

waking up or going to sleep at a certain time.

      As a result of the implementation of mechanical time, the majority of people

get paid wages in sum depending upon how many hours they work in a week.

The worth of labor is reduced to an hourly amount, where people sell their time

by the hour in order to collect a paycheck. In today's market society, "money

has become the mediator and regulator of all economic relations of

individuals...since labor is motion, time is it's natural measure" (Porter, p. 64).

Value in today's culture has been equated with the transaction of money, which

makes money a most profound and powerful concrete abstraction of modern

life.

      The standardization of money has allowed for the increase of large

capitalist enterprises such as limited liability corporations. "One vital aspect of

this has been the ability of managers to take out credit - to borrow money for

big projects - at only moderate risk, thus extending the scale and scope of the

division of labor (Porter, p. 64). The division of labor means that people are

divided between themselves as the result of the tasks that they perform or their

responsibilites for a particular area of their job. It is the division of labor that

stems from the diversity and inequality of human beings. This is also a

conscious choice of mutual gain and economic development and while it makes

production more efficient, it narrows the calculus of kinship and segments

people's identities.

      Modernity represents the cutting off of the individual from the traditional

way of life and implementing new ways and ideas. In the first world, the term

modern has long been used to distinguish a new social order from previous

social orders. Toward the end of the eighteenth century however, a significant

change occurred when many people in the first world began speaking and

thinking about the future as something that could be shaped and modified by

human action. These ideas were generally associated with the Enlightenment in

which behaviour was increasingly guided by reason and rationality. It seems as

if the first world conceptions of cultural modernity defined advanced human

civilization as such.

      There have been many different changes in history which have led to a

transformation in our culture and economy. These changes have occurred as a

direct result of the implementation of mechanical time, modernity, and the

division of labor. Without even one of these events, our current culture and

economy as we know it today could quite possibly be entirely different than it

is.

 

Works Cited

Porter,Phillip. Sheppard, Eric. "A World of Difference". Guilford Press.

      1998.



Jeanice Banttari, Global Studies Program, National University, La Jolla, Ca.