Our Own Time: A History of American Labor and the Working Day

“Crucial reading ... for all those who have ever punched a clock.”—International Labor and Working Class History
Our Own Time retells the story of American labor by focusing on the politics of time and the movements for a shorter working day. It argues that the length of the working day has been the central issue for the American labor movement during its most vigorous periods of activity, uniting workers along lines of craft, gender and ethnicity. The authors hold that the workweek is likely again to take on increased significance as workers face the choice between a society based on free time and one based on alienated work and unemployment.


  • “This definitive study of the working day shows how workers defined the reality of their lives and reshaped our concept of time.”
  • “This groundbreaking book ... is crucial reading not only for labor historians but for all those who have ever punched a clock.”
  • “Roediger and Foner show us once again that people want to work to live, not live to work.”
  • “Shows that shorter hours captured the imagination and aspirations of the worker not only in his or her role as worker but also as citizen, consumer, leisure-seeker and family member.”


  • Social acceleration and the need for speed

    In Western turbo-capitalism, people move faster and faster, but still feel stuck in the same place. Hartmut Rosa, professor of Sociology at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, explains such a paradox in his studies on “social acceleration”. Among his other books are Alienation and Acceleration: Towards a Critical Theory of Late-Modern Temporality and High Speed Society, Social Acceleration, Power, and Modernity, Social Acceleration: A New Theory of Modernity and, most recently by Verso, Sociology, Capitalism, CritiqueThe following interview was originally published by the LA Review of Books. June 28th, 2015.

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Other books by Philip S. Foner and David R. Roediger