What the Hell is a High Standard? The Swedish Employers’ Confederation and the Six-Hour Workday debate in the mid 1970s

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A concept that lies at the heart of political rhetoric is that of ‘workfare’. The issue, however, is what types of arguments have been invoked to assert the value of the concept. During the 1960s and 1970s, extensive criticism emerged towards a working life that was said to hinder women’s emancipation; a working life that wasted resources and had a negative impact on the environment; a working life that sought material consumerism rather than quality of life. The demand for a work time reduction also received much support. In this article, we have studied the use of language that The Swedish Employers’ Confederation used when publicly formulating their stances on the work time issue in 1975. We have chosen to highlight the argument contained in a discussion pamphlet published by Swedish Employers’ Confederation, in a situation where the use of language was determined by the left-wing movement, and solidarity, international aid and daycare places were keywords, rather than growth and consumption. The arguments employed in the discussion pamphlet were based in the idea that non-work entails a lack of solidarity for social development. Those who desired a work time reduction were portrayed by Swedish Employers’ Confederation as environmental villains and opponents to the liberation of both oppressed women and the impoverished of the third world. Swedish Employers’ Confederation’s pamphlet can be regarded as an example on how capitalism may handle major criticism. By reversing the meaning of the core concepts of the criticism, opponents’ arguments were assimilated, which contributed to a new rationalization of the capitalism. One of the major contributions from our study to the research field is an improved understanding of how this process developed.
Sidor (från-till)634-656
TidskriftTime & Society
Tidigt onlinedatum2016 apr. 4
StatusPublished - 2019

Ämnesklassifikation (UKÄ)

  • Arbetslivsstudier


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