A Four-Day Working Week: its Role in a Politics of Work

David A. Spencer (2022)

From a fringe idea with limited wider support, the goal of a four-day working week has moved into the spotlight in contemporary policy debates. Indeed, a growing number of businesses have agreed to pilot a four-day working week. This article examines what the turn to this goal means for a politics of work. It argues that its adoption by business interests can dilute its impacts, while its stress in some radical circles can distract from other pressing goals such as higher wages and improvement in work’s quality. The article is sceptical that a four-day working week, as currently conceived, would necessarily transform work for the better. Building on a different politics, it proposes an alternative agenda that would allow for fewer work hours alongside higher quality work. The barriers to the realisation of this agenda reinforce the fact that radical change in society requires deeper institutional reform, including within workplaces.

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