Working Time in Comparative Perspective - Vol. 1

Working Time in Comparative Perspective - Vol. 1

Working Time in Comparative Perspective - Vol. 1

Working Time in Comparative Perspective - Vol. 1

Synopsis

This book grows out of a longstanding fascination with the uncanny status of the mother in literature, philosophy, psychoanalysis, film, and photography. The mother haunts Freud's writings on art and literature, emerges as an obscure stumbling block in his metapsychological accounts of the psyche, and ultimately undermines his patriarchal accounts of the Oedipal complex as a foundation for human culture. The figure of
the mother becomes associated with some of psychoanalysis's most unruly and enigmatic concepts (the uncanny, anxiety, the primal scene, the crypt, and magical thinking). Read in relation to deconstructive approaches to the work of mourning, this book shows how the maternal function challenges traditional psychoanalytic models of the subject, troubles existing systems of representation, and provides a
fertile source for nonmimetic, nonlinear conceptions of time and space.

The readings in this book examine the uncanny properties of the maternal function in psychoanalysis, technology, and literature in order to show that the event of birth is radically unthinkable and often becomes expressed through uncontrollable repetitions that exceed the bounds of any subject. The maternal body often serves as an unacknowledged reference point for modern media technologies such as photography and the telephone, which attempt to mimic its reproductive properties. To the extent that these technologies aim to usurp the maternal function, they are often deployed as a means of regulating or warding off anxieties that are provoked by the experience of loss that real separation from the mother invariably demands. As the incarnation of our first relation to the strange exile of language, the mother is inherently a literary figure, whose primal presence in literary texts opens us up to the unspeakable relation to our own birth and, in so doing, helps us give birth to new and fantasmatic images of futures that might otherwise have remained unimaginable.

Excerpt

Ging Wong Privy Council Office, Government of Canada

Garnett Picot Statistics Canada

This is the first of two volumes of selected papers presented at the conference on “Changes in Working Time in Canada and the United States,” which was held in Ottawa, Ontario, on June 13–15, 1996, and was jointly sponsored by the Canadian Employment Research Forum (CERF), the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, and Statistics Canada. It reflects a renewed interest in recent years in the empirical evidence for changing labor supply—both hours of work and labor market participation—and the implications for employment, income support benefits, and taxation policies and programs.

To place this policy and research issue in a Canadian context, a February 1995 Parliamentary Committee report on Social Security reform called for initiatives to better understand and make policy recommendations regarding the redistribution of working time. What was clear to policymakers was that employment and income security policies, including unemployment insurance and welfare reform, needed to address significant changing patterns of work arrangements. At the same time, policymakers were handicapped by the absence of a knowledge base in this area. the research literature made sporadic references to the growth of a contingent workforce, flexible working arrangements, and nonstandard employment, but there was a lack of focus that pulled together the relevant concepts and empirical evidence.

This myopia is understandable. Through the 1980s, hours of work received little attention by academics and policy analysts, at least compared with issues such as unemployment (in Canada) and wage inequality (in North America). Average hours worked had declined slowly over many decades and then stabilized. This stasis produced little excitement. Labor supply topics received considerable attention during the 1970s, but this work also waned through the 1980s.

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