Main content
This episode will be available soon

Episode 1

Episode 1 of 5

Prof Hugh Cunningham discusses the transition from the short working day of the 18th century to the long hours people worked during the Industrial Revolution.

We talk now of a 'work/life balance', as though 'work' is something quite separate from 'life' and the meaning of both is self-evident. How have we arrived at such a way of thinking? It's hard to find answers because, while there is endless newspaper coverage of the issue, no history of the work/life balance exists. Especially for The Essay, Professor Hugh Cunningham explores the place that work has played in British lives from proto-industrialism in the C18th to post-industrialism in the C21st through five vivid chronological snapshots. Each tells the story of a particular period while shedding new light on a contemporary juggling act that causes great stress to many if not most people in our society

Throughout the series Hugh Cunningham returns to two themes: the impact of contemporary consumerism on our working lives and the difference between the work/leisure balance of the past - when the work-force was mainly male- and the so-called work/life balance of today - with women most taking the strain.

In Episode One, Hugh Cunningham looks at the transition from the so-called "leisure preference" of the 18th century, when many people worked only long enough to provide themselves with their basic needs and otherwise opted for leisure, to the the long hours we associate with everyday life during the Industrial Revolution.

Producer: Beaty Rubens

15 minutes

Last on

Mon 22 Feb 2010 23:00

More episodes


You are at the first episode

See all episodes from The Essay


The Book that Changed Me

The Book that Changed Me

Five figures from the arts and science introduce books that changed their lives and work.

Download The Essay

Download The Essay

Download all the episodes from the series and listen at your leisure.