On Kellogg’s Six-Hour Day (1996) by Benjamin Hunnicutt
Do we live to work or work to live? The question of how important work is in our lives is central to Hunnicutt’s study of Kellogg’s daring social experiment, which began in 1930 and lasted until 1985. At the start of the depression, W.K. Kellogg replaced the traditional three eight-hour shifts at his cereal plant with four six-hour shifts. In the downsized world we live in, it is hard to conceive of a CEO who would add a shift in order to employ people laid off by other plants and raise the six-hour shift workers’ wages more than 12% to make up for the loss of two work hours per day. The other half of his plan was to increase people’s involvement in their community and their families’ lives. Kellogg workers, especially the women, managed to find things to do with their extra time until WWII; after the war, workers, particularly men, seemed less able to find ways to fill their unstructured time. Using interviews with Kellogg employees dating back to the program’s beginning, as well as various studies on work, Hunnicutt (Work Without End) paints a sad picture of a society where people prefer buying things to socializing, a world where a shorter work day is no longer desirable because few know what to do with their spare time. When the six-hour day came to an end in 1985, women were the only ones who protested. Most men had succumbed to the belief that working longer was more manly and that going home after six hours to be with the family was not really the thing to do. This examination of the American attitude toward work is not light reading, but it could serve as a wake-up call for a nation in big trouble if the jobless future comes to pass.
From Publisher’s Weekly
I wonder if the gendered dynamic would still apply in the 21st century.
And so for day 1954