Edited By Dariusz Jemielniak
Structure and Agency in Law Firms: Qualitative Analysis of Long Work Hours Phenomenon
Despite the overall growth of civilization and the development of new technological advancements, people’s work hours are generally increasing. Research on hunter-gatherer cultures shows that people worked less before the Neolithic revolution; it has been estimated that they devoted less than four hours to acquiring and preparing food (Sahlins 1972). Further, some contemporary groups, such as the Bushmen of Southern Africa and Aboriginal Australians, continued to cultivate this lifestyle until a few decades ago, when they switched to agriculture (Gowdy 1997). Their economy was very primitive and their material artifacts were minimal, but their imaginative and spiritual life and their kinship system were developed much more than those in industrial societies (Warner 1937). In describing these groups, social scientists have abandoned the usage of non-neutral terms such us „primitive“ and „development“ due to the observation that these groups’ alleged primitiveness and underdevelopment applies mainly to what is most visible; that is, to the material sphere of life. However, could we without hesitation refer to processes that lead contemporary Western societies to the limitation of our social and spiritual life as „development“? In addition, these processes make us work more and more. This article deals with the problem of long working hours in international law firms. Our research team conducted a qualitative study among a group of professionals who could be placed at the opposite end of continuum from the hunter-gatherers. The interview analysis attempted to answer a set of research questions: 1) how lawyers evaluate the...
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