"The Political Economy of Working Time and Inequality"
My dissertation reveals a previously neglected factor in the recent rise of inequality and the resulting political conflicts around redistribution – the regulation and distribution of working time. I identify work time regimes varying along two dimensions of inequality: class and gender. Using a multi-methods approach and drawing on a range of data sources as well as a year’s fieldwork in France and Germany, I identify the political and policy origins of cross-national and historical variation in work time regimes and demonstrate the central ways that work time regimes are shaping both the nature of contemporary gender and class inequalities and the politics of those inequalities. Specifically, I find that increased class-based polarization in the distribution of working time has helped fuel growing income inequality, while longer working time norms systematically exacerbate gender inequality. I further show that people’s beliefs about the fairness of the market distribution of income is significantly shaped by their working time, and that of their socioeconomic peers. Where highly paid workers work long hours, they use this experience (and their observations of the work lives of those around them) as a heuristic in forming views about the deservingness of the "people like them", coming to see their elevated socioeconomic status as merited and thus opposing redistribution. Where low-income workers are poor precisely because they are underemployed, they are also perceived as undeserving, even by the working poor.