Cover: Time for Things: Labor, Leisure, and the Rise of Mass Consumption, from Harvard University PressCover: Time for Things in HARDCOVER

Time for Things

Labor, Leisure, and the Rise of Mass Consumption

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Product Details


$49.95 • £39.95 • €45.00

ISBN 9780674979512

Publication Date: 01/12/2021


368 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

1 photo, 1 illus., 2 tables


An enormously ambitious and highly provocative book, Time for Things addresses one of the most central and most difficult puzzles in economics and political economy: why is it that advanced capitalist societies do not use their high and growing productivity for more free time—with great benefits for individuals, social life, and the environment—and instead increase consumption in line with rising productive capacity? With extraordinary conceptual precision and theoretical acumen, Rosenberg shows how the various versions of modern economics fail to even come close to resolving the puzzles posed by the apparent stability of consumerist capitalism. Whether or not his approach to this puzzle will stand after criticism, the debate that Rosenberg has started will be a major one and is likely to add significantly to our understanding of contemporary capitalism.—Wolfgang Streeck, author of How Will Capitalism End?

This remarkable book examines the master issue of our daily lives, the scarcity of time, and makes a startling argument about the norms that facilitate capitalist expansion: time is turned into ever more things because things begin to be seen as time. Rosenberg’s wide-ranging approach draws from, and challenges, historians, economists, psychologists, and philosophers, as much as sociologists. Time for Things is not an incremental addition to an existing conversation, but the start of a whole new conversation.—Monica Prasad, author of The Land of Too Much

This brilliant book presents a revolutionary account of America’s consumption economy, arguing that standardized consumer durables provided essential legitimation for the very idea of wage labor. Drawing on economics, sociology, and history, Rosenberg combines data on economic trends, consumption patterns, business and labor movements, product development, and marketing. His magisterial study states and defends a novel theory of consumption that has profound implications for our understanding of the modern American economy.—Andrew Abbott, University of Chicago

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