Economic structure and individuality : an essay on contradiction
This Project builds upon Lucien Seve's time-based (biographical) approach to personality development. The personality is, he contends, composed of three core elements-need; activity; and capacity. In contemporary social conditions, needs are complex and subordinated to the structure of acts and the growth of capacities. The Hypotheses that flow from this prioritisation are critically appraised here, while the theory in toto is put to the ultimate test of historical inquiry and verification. This historical investigation seeks to explore the development of capacities and the structure of activity (use-time) in the Advanced Capitalist Countries since the mid-19th Century. Contra the deskilling perspective, the interpretation of that history proposed here is a contradictory one: a long term trend to reduced worktimes coupled with secular densification of tasks; a mechanical integration of the collective labourer combining with overt moves to deepen worker segregation; a concomitant polarisation of skills and continuing inequity in access to a growing biographical time fund. The ultimate indifference of the capitalist mode of production to the biographical interests of its supporting individuals prompts, finally, an evaluation of options for a human-centred path of social change for the future (an exploration of concrete Utopias), In this humanist reappropriation of history, the communist vision has been correctly typed as under-defined in crucial ways, including in the field of development of what Marx termed rich individuality. The overall assessment of the Marxian project remains, however, a positive one.