The Social Time of Organizational Payment Systems

Bell, Emma (2001). The Social Time of Organizational Payment Systems. Time & Society, 10(1) pp. 45–62.



This article explores the relationships between time use and the social construction of meaning surrounding the operation of wage payment systems in three chemical industry organizations. It explores some of the ways that organizational time is subdivided and prioritized, and focuses on the way that patterns of payment for time contribute towards the formation of managerial and shop floor identities. These ideas are developed through the analysis of ethnographic research data, which supports the view that there are multiple kinds of social time in work organizations. It is suggested that much of the management literature concerned with the subject of payment systems treats time as finite, exhaustible and irreversible and this has implications for the way that payment systems are understood by practising managers. Managerial time codes reflect a closely scheduled time culture and reinforce a discourse of progress, whereas employees continue to see work time as something for which they should be compensated.

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