CAPITALISM AND TIME ZONES. Thomas Meaney cites a “classic article ‘Time, Work-Discipline and Industrial Capitalists'” in which E.P. Thompson argued that “changes ‘in the inward notation of time’ in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, dictated by the needs of capital, had mechanized human nature and decoupled it from the natural world.'” Meaney summarizes Vanessa Ogle’s arguments that the story is a lot more complicated.

I accept that factories were one factor leading to a different sense of time. I posted here on Joseph Schumpeter’s view that the increase in production from the Industrial Revolution did not come from the machines themselves. The real increase came because the worker was required to work as fast and as unrelentingly as the machine.

I think that railroads were another factor. It was after the coming of the railroads that times became standardized across broad areas. Meaney notes that previously “travellers crossing long distances would have to change their watches several time, sometimes in the same city….” Railroad scheduling demanded a common measure of time.

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