Willing Slaves: How the Overwork Culture is Ruling Our Lives Paperback – 6 Jun 2005
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‘Brilliantly thorough and thoroughly brilliant attack on the contemporary work ethic.’ Guardian
‘Excellent.’ Suzanne Moore, Mail on Sunday
‘Highly readable and informative. ’ TLS
From the Publisher
The British now work the longest hours in Europe. British workers are also under more pressure: job intensification affects every shopfloor, office, classroom and hospital, as a cult of efficiency has driven a missionary magnetism of fighter deadlines and more exacting targets in the most exploitative and manipulative work culture developed since the industrial revolution.
What do we get in return for this hard work? Stagnant wages, job insecurity, stress, exhaustion; the British workforce has not been so powerless for over a century. In the last decade, inequality has grown more sharply in Britain than at any time since the Edwardian era; the fat cats pay is now 25 times that of the average worker.
Willing Slaves exposes the paradox that, though were all being exploited, its work that has come to give our lives meaning: religion, political causes, family life have become secondary. This book reveals how this astonishing fraud has been perpetrated, how millions of workers know they face burnout but believe there is no alternative. Bunting tells us what we have to do to take our lives back and what will happen if we dont.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
If you've ever wondered whether it was really meant to be this way, this book will at once reassure you that it's not, and kick-start you into making the required changes to get your life back.
It is not a 'self-help' / 'personal growth' book - there are enough of those. And, as the author brilliantly asserts, this focus on personal responsibility for achieving 'work / life balance' etc. is all part of the problem - cultural change, she argues, requires collective action (time to join the union!)
If you find yourself habitually slumped on the sofa on a Sunday night, after a weekend's recovery from a knackering week at work; if you've watched in silent despair as the hobbies you used to love are sacrificed; if you find yourself unable to sleep because your mind is buzzing with an overflowing 'to do' list, order this book without delay. You won't regret it.
The book offers a range of anecdotes, official reports etc, showing that England is largely alone among the developed states in promoting --mostly unpaid-- extra hours of work, to combat very poor productivity and management. Yes. The only society which comes close is the USA, but from this reviewer's experience, employers in the US take their pounds of flesh another way, i.e. by giving very short holidays. On a daily basis, most Americans do not seem to do these pointlessly long hours (most of the office tower lights in Manhattan are off by 7 pm at latest, mostly by 6 pm).Read more ›
The best part of the book is that it describes what appears to happening on an all-too-often basis.
However, it does not fully explain why employees behave like they do.
In other words, what it does is look at the symptoms of our so-called modern work ethic and not so much focusing on what forces are shaping the self.
We need to know more about how powerful groups influence behaviour, sustain their influence over time, and absolve themselves of the aftermath from overwork.
This I feel cannot be explained through reference to secondary resources or personal accounts.
In short, this book is provocative to the point where I would expect the book to be mentioned for some time yet as we ponder over effects of work on our non-work lives. But, the momentum needs to be continued or taken up by someone who can better explain the forces that shape behaviour in the workplace and outside the workplace.
The book provokes both thought and outrage in equal measure. By far its greatest strength for me was that it gives the lie to the CBI mantra that we need to enslave workers to remain 'competitive'.
WHAT WOULD'VE MADE IT BETTER - I think Ms Bunting doesn't go far enough. Possibly there is a need to introduce the subject in the 'personalising' way she has in order to make it relatable to readers. However, I would've liked to see a wider and more powerful critique of the fundamental underpinnings of our current society (wealth; acquisition; capital; sterotypical masculinity) that drives the many to be subtly subjugated for the few. I'm not sure the 48hr working week opt-out is the biggest enemy.
I would take issue with the previous reviewer who denigrates the UK public sector worker as cossetted (etc etc usual tired sterotypes). He has obvious zero experience of that which he speaks of. A cursory search of any major news site (BBC; Ananova etc ) will demonstrate both the lower comparative salaries and the major job cuts that the public sector have had to endure recently. The introduction of the so-called 'superior' private sector culture has only led to major pay increases for senior Whitehall mandarins, not Joe and Jill average.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
After a varied career in secretarial work and nursing I retired five years ago. I am currently working in a care home for elderly people with dementia. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Melanie Williams
A commendable amount of research has gone into this book and you can feel her passion on the subject right the way through. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Ted Baker
Excellent book by Madeleine Bunting, one of my favourite journalists. Prompt delivery and well packaged. Many thanks.Published 15 months ago by Fiddledd123
Reading this book is amazing! Nothing has changed since the dark days of the labour administration. If anything, it's worse. Read morePublished on 3 Nov. 2013 by Mr. Paul Cowsill
The basic thesis of this book is sound - since Thatcher there is no longer any such a thing as a stable job or long-term employment (except if you are one of the vast army of civil... Read morePublished on 10 Jun. 2005