Prof Hugh Cunningham tells the story of Victorians such as William Morris and Karl Marx who fought to improve the quality of the working lives of all Britons.
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.
Those of us who take real pleasure and pride in our work are the lucy ones. In Episode Four Hugh Cunningham tells the story of great Victorians such as William Morris and Karl Marx who fought to improve the quality of the working lives of all Britons.
Producer: Beaty Rubens