Arbetstidens symbolvärde : om historisk kontinuitet och förändring i synen på arbetstid samt normers inverkan på arbetstidens gestaltning

Sammanfattning: The point of departure of the present thesis is what happens to working time in sections of the labor market where the content of production is becoming more knowledge-intensive, that is, where production is largely based on creativity, knowledge development and communication – processes that are difficult to control and locate in time. Paired with the rise in information and communication technology (ICT), room for interpretation is created by necessity as concerns the boundaries of work and what constitutes a satisfactory work effort. The thesis argues for the need to pay attention to social norms if we are to comprehend what guides action in such ”free” job situations – free in the sense that there is room for individual control of work hours. From a historical perspective, an understanding is sought of what constitutes the social norms surrounding working time and in what way they contribute to the temporal patterns the worker gives to his/her workday. In order to grasp the nature of temporal norms, two papers presented in the thesis study historical sources reflecting the way in which working time has been valued and debated in Sweden during the 20th century. In order to elucidate the relationship between work and work hours in knowledge-intensive jobs, two groups of wage earners with great influence over when, how and where their work is to be carried out have been studied. On the basis of these two cases, the thesis discusses on what grounds work expectations are created and how these expectations are handled. The results indicate that, in a historical perspective, working hours have been surrounded with normative conceptions. However, it was not until the formal employment contract was loosened that these norms had any real impact on the temporal pattern the individual gives to his/her working day. This is explained by the fact that, under this kind of loose contract, the worker is exposed to social expectations in a more direct way. The title, “On the symbolic side of working time”, implies that in giving working time a specific temporal pattern, the individual is expressing his/her identity, loyalty, commitment and status. Further, the thesis increases our understanding of the ways in which social norms both facilitate and limit our relation to working life; how these norms are refracted against a changing world, and how they are manipulated, debated and ever changing in content. At the same time, the thesis shows how different forces are working to restructure our conception of what is to be viewed as a satisfactory work effort and in the long run also how and when we work.