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  • Published: 6 February 2024
  • ISBN: 9780241475911
  • Imprint: Penguin Press
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 432
  • RRP: $55.00

The Politics of Time

Gaining Control in the Age of Uncertainty

The renowned radical economist Guy Standing turns his attention to our time, and how to reclaim it

Time has always been political. Throughout history, how we use our time has been defined and controlled by the powerful, and today is no exception. But we can reclaim control, and in this book, the pioneering economist Guy Standing shows us how.

The ancient Greeks organised time into five categories: work, labour, recreation, leisure and contemplation. Labour was onerous, while the keys to a good life were self-chosen work and leisure (schole), which included participation in public life and lifelong education. Yet now our jobs are supposed to provide all meaning in life, our time outside labour is considered simply 'time off', and politicians prioritise jobs above all else.

Today, we are experiencing the age of chronic uncertainty. Stress and mental illness are on the rise as more and more time is being stolen from us in myriad ways, particularly from the vulnerable and those in the precariat.

But there is a way forward. We can create a new politics of time, one that liberates us and helps save the planet, through strengthening real leisure and working on shared endeavours through commoning. We can retake control of our time, but we must do it together.

  • Published: 6 February 2024
  • ISBN: 9780241475911
  • Imprint: Penguin Press
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 432
  • RRP: $55.00

About the author

Guy Standing

Guy Standing has a PhD in Economics from the University of Cambridge. He has held professorships at the University of Bath and SOAS, University of London, following a long career at the International Labour organisation in Geneva, and has advised the UN, World Bank and governments around the world on labour and social policy. He is currently a professorial research associate at SOAS. In 1986 he co-founded the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) and now serves as its honorary co-President. He has been invited to speak on the precariat and basic income in over 350 locations since his bestselling book The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class was first published in 2011. He lives in Switzerland and is a Fellow of the British Academy of Social Sciences.

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Praise for The Politics of Time

Guy Standing's books have, over the years, pieced together a necessary political and intellectual agenda for defending commons that are still standing, for re-commoning realms that privatisation has wrecked, for liberating workers from the morality of pious drudgery and, most importantly, for introducing a progressive version of basic income for all. His Politics of Time is a splendid and timely addition to this body of important work

Yanis Varoufakis

With his trademark panache, Guy Standing presents us with a whistlestop tour of time that is both enlightening, and in its current implications, frightening, until the final chapter!

Danny Dorling

Why should "industrial time," or labourism, dominate our lives, sowing stress, alienation, and mental illness, when we could live richer, more satisfying and integrated lives as commoners? Guy Standing has performed a great service in writing this political history of our experience of time. With clarity and rigor, he explains how capital has structured our time and culture – and how commoning in its many forms could emancipate our lives, consciousness, and communities

David Bollier

Urgent and forensic, Guy Standing’s examination of our relationship with time is a not just an historical tour de force but a passionate call to action. His compelling arguments for a new progressive politics of time which reclaims time for commoning – shared and collaborative activity for the common good - culminate in an exhilarating final chapter setting out a practical manifesto for a Progressive Alliance Government. This is required reading for anyone concerned with how to build a better future

Caroline Lucas

A thrilling and radical manifesto which seeks to rehabilitate the ancient Greek concept of schole (or purposeful leisure) for a new age

Tom Hodgkinson

Innovative and thought-provoking as always, Guy Standing's insights into how time is a deeply politicized and unequally distributed resource make compelling reading

Kate Pickett

Guy Standing's prose is delightfully accessible to the lay reader.. cogent and very readable… Standing’s daring emancipatory agenda challenges our prevailing "jobs fetish" as anything but progressive

Niamh Jiménez, Irish Times