Social vs. Detail Division of Labour, Degradation of work and De-skilling of Employees. Essay

Submitted By christinakb
Words: 2304
Pages: 10

Social vs. Detail Division of Labour, Degradation of work and De-skilling of Employees

By: Christina Bajwa

In one form or another, the division of labor has been the fundamental principle of industrial organization. The division of labor in a capitalist industry has been primarily different from the distribution of tasks, crafts, or specialties of production throughout society. Though all societies prior to capitalism have been known to divide their work into productive specialties, none of them subdivided it quite as systematically and precisely into limited operations as a capitalist society (Braverman, 1974, pp. 49). Capitalism has proven to be an amazing success for corporations, their shareholders, and to some extent even consumers. It has provided corporations with cheap, abundant and easily exploited labor; influence on government policies allowing them the power to manipulate prices of goods and labor wages in order to maximize profits; and most importantly, vast amounts of capital to be invested into the ever increasing and greed-laden business industry (Simpson, Achbar & Abbott, 2003). Consumers benefit from Capitalism as they are provided with the opportunity to choose from an infinite selection of products suiting their individual spending abilities ranging from expensive high-end to affordable discount goods. But what happens to wage laborers in a capitalist mode of production? Do they benefit from it as well? Are the wages paid to them fairly aligned with the labor power they put into the amount of work they perform? Is the work they perform rewarding and aligned with the skills they possess? Do these laborers have any form of job security? Driven by necessity and desperation at times, wage laborers accept work in adverse working conditions and at any pay scale offered by corporations (Simpson, Achbar & Abbott, 2003). In this paper, I will be talking about the exploitation of wage laborers in a Capitalist mode of production by explaining the difference between social and detailed division of labor and its social consequences; exploring how the application of the Babbage principle results in degradation work; and discussing how Elmer Rice’s play ‘The Adding Machine’ illustrates the effects of it all. Division of labor in a society and the corresponding tying down of individuals to a particular calling progresses itself just as the division of labor in manufacture from opposite starting-points. Since the beginning and development of civilization, within a family and with further development of that family into a tribe, there begins a natural division of labor caused by differences of age and sex, this division expands by the expansion of the tribe into a community by an increase in its population. There are many different kinds of communities described by the work, craft or trade they perform. For instance, there are animal hunters, fisherman, cattle-raisers, carpenters, etc. Different communities find different means of production and different means of subsistence in their natural environment. Hence, their modes of production, living, and their products are different from one another. It is this instinctively developed difference which, when different communities come in contact, calls forth a mutual exchange of products, and the following gradual conversion of those products into commodities (Braverman, 1974, pp. 50). This exchange does not create differences between the spheres of production, but brings what are already different into relation, thus converting them into more or less interdependent branches of the combined production of an enlarged society. This constitutes ‘social division of labor’. It allows workers the opportunity to excel in their craft, trade, or service by creating products or providing services that they are accustomed and happy to be creating and providing. Though functional and fruitful, social division of labor had been gradually replaced by Manufacture or detailed division of