CFP: Working five to nine: Industriousness in the History of Capitalism

Call for Papers Hybrid/IRL Symposium: 

Working five to nine: Industriousness in the History of Capitalism

7 July 2023, Australian Catholic University

Victoria Parade, Fitzroy (Melbourne). Room TBA. Hybrid Format.

Convenors: Hannah Forsyth and Elizabeth Tandy Shermer

Twentieth century capitalism has relied to a considerable degree on industriousness at work and school. Such industriousness became key to accessing the elite. Yale law scholar Daniel Markovits describes a college application essay in which a student boasted that their dedication to study led them to pee their pants rather than interrupt an intellectual discussion. Such commitment became quite widespread. Musical icon Dolly Parton recently rewrote her iconic song, “9 to 5,” into “5 to 9” for an app commercial, which praised the many striving to get ahead, or just break even, in the Gig Economy. Productivity increases in service sector occupations have arguably driven a great deal of profitability since the late twentieth century. Longer working hours, fewer and shorter vacations, helicopter parenting  and other forms of investment in our own human capital have acted as a bulwark against falling into workforce precarity or losing class status, though it may be destabilized by the ‘Great Resignation’ succeeding COVID lockdowns. This symposium seeks to understand the origins and unfolding of this twentieth century work ethic, considering New Deal and welfare state preoccupations with full employment, the massive increase in years of schooling globally and the expansion of working hours, particularly among university students and in white-collar occupations.

We welcome proposals from history, sociology, education, political economy or other fields that consider industriousness in the twentieth century, whether in the USA, UK, Australia or elsewhere. Priority will be given to papers that may cohere into a published collection.

Please send short abstract proposals to Hannah by 1 May 2023:

For enquiries, feel free to contact either Hannah or Ellie