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Division Of Labour

  The concept of division of labour is the basis of modern economics. It was first developed as a theory by Adam Smith (1723 - 1790), and refers to the specialization of work by tasks. Smith saw division of labour as an outgrowth of increases in the size of markets and the consequent growth in the size of production units. In economic theory, it is identified as a cause of economies of scale.

In sociology, the term is used in three different senses. First, it may refer to a technical division of labour and describes the productive process. Adam Smith used the term to mean specialization as a result of subdividing work into simple operations performed by separate workers. Organized in this way, worker productivity was raised and labour costs lowered. For Marx, work lost its creativity and meaning for workers when subdivided in this manner.

Second, ‘division of labour’ is used to refer to a social division of labour and in this sense it is applied to society as a whole. Here it is used to refer to social differentiation more generally, that is the separation of different areas of social life such as family and work.

Third, ‘sexual division of labour’ refers to the division of tasks between women and men. The sexual division of labour is often explained on the basis of biology. Feminists, however, explain it with reference to the domination of men in general and the separation of the domestic domain from the public sphere. DA TF

See also alienation; bureaucracy; career; comparative advantage; evolutionism; feminism; gender; globalization; labour process; occupation; organization; profession; rationalization; social closure; social stratification; society; status; work.Further reading D.M. Gordon, , R. Edwards, , M. Reich, Segmented Work, Divided Workers; , A. Oakley, The Sociology of Housework; , T. Parsons, Societies: Evolutionary and Comparative Perspectives.



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