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  Work (Old English wyrcan) refers to the activity through which human beings produce from the natural world in order to survive. Work is the exertion of physical and mental effort, which has as its objective the production of goods and services which cater to human needs. For most people, in all types of society, work occupies a larger part of their lives than any other type of activity. In all societies work is the basis of the economic system.

When sociologists use the term work they do not simply associate work with paid employment. Employment is any activity which one is engaged in for wages or a salary. Wage-labour is only a particular form of work associated with capitalism. In traditional societies, there was often only a elementary monetary system, and very few people worked for money payments. In modern societies housework and the informal or black economy (transactions carried on outside the sphere of orthodox paid employment) are major spheres of non-waged work which make a major contribution to the overall production of wealth. Nevertheless in modern society a woman running a house and bringing up children is still likely to be distinguished from a woman who works in paid employment. DA

See also alienation; career; class; division of labour; feminism; gender; labour process; Marxism; occupation; profession; Protestant ethic; role; social stratification; society; status.Further reading C. Littler (ed.), The Experience of Work; , A. Oakley, The Sociology of Housework; , K. Thompson (ed.), Work, Employment and Unemployment.



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