Punchcard Economy

“168 Hours in a Week” – a hip hop guide to the work / life balance

Nov 22 2013 · by Sam Meech

In the track ‘ENERGY CRISIS’, Josh Martinez and McEnroe describe (skip to 2:28) the reality of juggling various endeavours during the working week, by accounting for each of the 168 hours as apportioned to either labour, recreation or rest, and even subsections of those terms. Interestingly , for rappers, they appear to achieve a fairly reasonable work / life / rest balance:

“168 hours in a week, and a third of those are spent on sleep”

 That seems in line with the ’8 Hours Rest’ ideal of Robert Owens’ movement

“We’re now down to 112, with 40 spent in a suit”

The forty-hour working week, right there!  This rapper is working 8 hours a day – how European! Except, he goes on to explain, that work entails some other uses of his time:

” 5 more for my lunch-break, and 10 for the commute. Thats 55 on work, and 57 left.”

So, the act of going to work, and the break to eat at work, by virtue of being related to labour, become classed as a form of labour. This was something also touched upon by Dr Claire McAndrew - commuting certainly doesn’t feel like ‘recreation’ or ‘rest’.

And so the 888 ‘contract’ is ‘broken’, not so much by the flexibility of the labour as set out by the employer (there is no flexi-time discussed here), but by the worker’s classification of other activities under ‘labour’. There-after, the time left in the week is increasingly subdivided between forms of recreation, which he then begins to see as an infringement on his own time.

“the problem is the robbing of my time is so common that it’s not even thought of as a crime, trying to find just an hour that I can call mine”

So whilst we might conclude that modern forms of work and technology blur the boundaries between Labour, Rest and Recreation, we do have same agency in defining those terms for ourselves in relation to our own lives.

“The man who loves his job never works a day in his life.” Confucius