From the lonely to the common time

Desynchronization as a problem of the service society

Postal growth is not necessarily equivalent to degrowth. Growth should not necessarily be renounced. But in the growth-oriented services society, some circumstances tend to become issues that need to be addressed in new ways today. These circumstances include, according to Hartmut Rosa, temporal desynchronization. Rosa distinguishes different types of temporal desynchronization. Here, however, it is about another form of desynchronization, namely the desynchronisation of life tempi, which is of great importance for the everyday life of humans.

The historical synchronization of life tempi

Before the discussion about desynchronization, a clarification of the concept of synchronization is needed.

By synchronizing tempi of life one can understand the situation that all humans lead the life on the basis of a common temporal model, z. For example, you can go to work during the same period of time and have a break. Historically, the tempi of life in pre-modern agrarian society were already based on a common rhythm, which was determined by nature, for example by changing the seasons. However, the evolution towards industrial society resulted in a different kind of synchronization, since now the fixed, simultaneous working hours gave people a daily structure that took place independently of the rhythm of nature.

In order to increase the productive power and efficiency, the entrepreneurs, especially in the manufacturing sector, wanted to extend working hours as far as possible. U. a. against the exploitation caused by prolonged working hours, the workers turned in their subsequent labor disputes. Against the background of this class struggle, political and economic powers began exercising their right to regulate working time in the first half of the 20th century. After German reunification, the Working Hours Act (ArbZG) plays the most important role. In addition to the adequate limitation of the maximum working time, the ArbZG defines on the one hand the beginning and the end of the working time and on the other hand has an indirect influence on when leisure time can take place. In an industrialized society, the law-bounded limit between work and leisure is considered by most to be a temporal model of lifestyle. The tempi of life are also generally synchronized, since the rest of life around the working time has to be aligned.

In addition to the problems that synchronize the tempi of life, such as the imbalance between working and free time, also the change from the industrial to the service society and the associated desynchronization brings with it challenges.

Today’s desynchronization of life tempi

A characteristic of the service society is the flexibilization of the working time for a part of the employees. As a result, everyday life, which took place in the course of the development of industrial society within a rigid structure, is dissipated. There is less and less a certain period of time that serves purely as a work or leisure time. The validity of a common temporal model becomes increasingly weaker with the rise of the service society. I’m going to work now, but my friends may just go to bed; One day I finally get out while my family members have to work or go to school. Even if I finally have a period with my partner for dinner, the meal may be interrupted from time to time by the smartphone. At dinner we sit facing each other, but our souls are not in sync then. We miss more and more often; So the tempi of life are increasingly asynchronous.

This can have serious repercussions on people’s well-being, for example by undermining time with their partner, friend or family member, because there are so few shared periods of free time available. While in the industrial society it was still necessary to fight for one’s own time – time for ourselves, which can also be spent with friends and family members – in the service society it is often a problem that the own time is often not with friends or the family can be shared.

Time coordination as a task for the post-growth society

Against this background, it would be a task in the post-growth-oriented society to coordinate different life tempi in such a way that the quality of life of the people is positively influenced. We no longer just need own time, but common time. This task therefore refers to time coordination. If I want to spend time together with my family (eg a family vacation), I can not just passively wait for holidays, but I and my family members have to actively plan our time together. Maybe I need the colleagues who want to step in for me. As a result, horizontal coordination between the individuals involved plays an important role in overcoming the desynchronization problem of the service society.

However, the coordination of working hours often entails a problem of justice. For example, employee participation on the beginning and end of daily working hours today takes place mainly in a negotiation process between the works council and the employer. In companies without a works council, however, the employer often has the option of setting working hours within the framework of legal regulations alone. In addition, working hours are becoming harder to limit or define due to the tendency towards flexibilisation. Perhaps every worker should be given the right in the future to have a say in the definition and the laying down of working time. In other words, the right to codetermine working time should be considered a basic and individualized labor law in the future. How to realize such a right is, of course, a complicated question. But it pays off to think about this question on the way to the post-growth society.


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