Sunday, November 2, 2008

Upcoming on EconoSpeak

by the Sandwichman

Starting this coming Monday, November 3, Sandwichman will be posting a 14-part serialization of "Missing: the strange dissappearance of S. J. Chapman's theory of the hours of labour" to celebrate the upcoming centenary of that penetrating but neglected contribution to neoclassical economic analysis.

Chapman's theory, published in 1909 in The Economic Journal, was acknowledged as authoritative by the leading economists of the day. It provided important insights into the prospects for market rationality with respect to work-time arrangements and hinted at a profound immanent critique of economists' excessive concern with external wealth.

Chapman's theory was consigned to obscurity by mathematical analyses that reverted heedlessly to outdated and naïve assumptions about the connection between hours and output. You can also download the full article in PDF format.


Martin Langeland said...

What is your opinion of E. F. Schumacher? Does the 'Small is Beautiful' argument fit well with the shorter work day?
Thanks for providing the Steward piece(s). I look forward to the Chapman.

Sandwichman said...

I'm sympathetic, generally, to the idea that bigger is not always better. So small can be beautiful. I think it fits with the notion that people can be more self-reliant with a shorter work day. By self-reliant, I don't mean individualistic. I'm thinking of people providing for their needs and pleasures through direct social activities rather than through wage-earning and exchange.

Ken Houghton said...

A 14-part serialisation of a 17-page paper seems a touch excessive; Constant Reader trusts that there will be commentary as well.

Constant Reader also hopes that, unlike the last round, Sandwichman will be careful to identify the parts by number (Arabic, Roman, or cloven hooves is left to his discretion) so that those using an RSS feed have at least a chance of knowing where you are and where we left off reading.

Sandwichman said...

Thanks, Ken, I'll number the posts.

My rationale for the 14-part (including bibliography) serialization is to present a readily digestible piece of information in each post and also provide an opportunity for more or less point-by-point questioning and discussion. The full document will always be available for anyone who wants to get the whole sweep of the analysis all at once. I'm also guessing some people may be interested in particular parts of the argument even if not in the whole thing.

As for commentary, this article is by me -- so obviously I stand by what I've written. It will be up to readers to raise questions and offer criticisms, which I will be delighted to respond to.

Anonymous said...

it my be good to combine this analyses with the one in my own favorite Ec. J, article (and there are other articles in Ec J if i recall, especially if its been aroundf since 1909), the one showing that the distribution of attendenance at movies follows bose-einstein statistics. perhaps some more innovative statistics might best describe the optimal number of hours worked, and job distribution (because the whole 2 party system, and related choice between fermi-dirac and bose-einstein (excercize: derive the former from the latter)seems so outmoded).