Social and Detail Division of Labor

Social and Detail Division of Labor


Division of labor comprises the process in which cooperative labor specializes in specific and circumscribed tasks and roles that aim at increasing the quality and efficiency of the output(Larivière et al., 418). The quality of human labor dramatically influences the value of goods and services that are traded in the local and international environment. The natural division of labor dates back to the beginning and development of civilization where labor was divided by age and gender within the family, and this later grew to the community level as the population continued to increase (Larivière et al., 419). They typed of work, trade, and craft performed by each community members varied and started defining them. When different communities came into contact in the effort of exchanging products with one another, a gradual need of bringing together the different production mechanisms and spheres of this people emerged thus resulting to creation or more or less interdependent branches of combined production within the society (Larivière et al., 422).This essay focuses on critically discussing the existing differences between social and detail division of labor as claimed by Braverman, how the capitalist management of work differs from pre-capitalist, the current social consequences of the capitalist organization of production and how the Rice’s play can be used in this study to illustrate the labor effects that Braverman describes in his discussion.

Variation between Social and Detailed Division of Labor According to Braverman

The comprehensive analysis of the working of capitalism in the United States during the twentieth century is enhanced through the use of the ‘Labor and Monopoly Capitalism’ which is a written work that was published by Harry Braverman in 1974. In this publication, Braverman consistently uses the various concepts that are borrowed from the work of Marx in the attempt of establishing a critique that critically demonstrates how work continued to degrade in America an aspect that is still taking place up-to-date(Braverman 46). Majority of Braverman’s arguments in this publication are primarily based on the increased need of creating a new efficient system where control and coordination of labor force were possible in the efforts of maximizing profits plus also his high dislike for the capitalist economy (Braverman 47).

In any industrial organization, the division of labor is considered as a fundamental principle and critical success driver. According to Braverman, in the capitalist industry, a division of labor is assumed to be significantly different from the distribution of crafts, tasks or specialties of production throughout the society (Braverman 48). Braverman suggests that none of the communities in America sub-divided its work in a systematic and precise manner like the capitalist society did through limiting the involved operations although all organizations were known for dividing their work into productive specialties prior the introduction of capitalism (Braverman 49).

In any market that is characterized by the free labor force, it is increasingly very essential to critically investigate and comprehend the various ways in which the capitalists manage to expand their capital and the existing foundations that monopoly has in capitalism. Braverman claims that a detailed division of labor is the earliest and most essential mode of production in a capitalist economy (Braverman 51). He further argues that social division of labor, on the other hand, plays a crucial role in determining the extent of socio-cultural solidarity and cohesion, stratification in the labor force, effects of inequality and how fast technological development takes place by breaking down the social labor on the basis of craft specialization (Braverman 52).

Moreover, Braverman states that during the manufacturing process of a product, detailed division of labor mainly focuses on the use of breakdown method whereby the manufacturing process is critically divided into several distinct processes, and each of these processes is assigned a workman(Braverman 53). There various benefits that are received through the use of the detailed division of labor such as improvement in the skills and competence of the employees as a result of repetition of operations and enhancement of productivity since time is saved in passing the task to the next worker which is contrary to what happens in the social division of labor. The managers can gain more control over the pace of the entire process of work since more details are available when dividing up work thus making a detailed division of labor one of the most crucial factors which capitalists put into consideration when increasing control of the labor process(Pagano 1411).

Unlike social division of labor which focuses on a broad range of tasks, a detailed division of labor emphasizes continued specialization in a single task. However, Braverman argues that this method of dividing labor results into the individual worker of a given task becoming unskilled in the long run since he or she fails to develop any other particular skill that can be offered in the labor market (Braverman 55). On the other hand, social division of labor overcomes this shortcoming by ensuring that the individual workers involved in the work close interact and cooperate with one another towards gaining completing the assigned tasks, and it is through such interactions that these workers can learn new skills from each other hence enabling each one of them to offer new special skills in the labor market. In the detailed division of labor, the continued reluctance of the capitalists to provide more than the regional rate for the labor offered significantly inhibits the ability of the unskilled laborer to increase his or her wage (Pagano 1414).

It has been discovered that particular division of labor always works in the interests of the capitalists in the sense that it focuses on the various ways in which productivity can be increased while at the same time decreasing the existing levels of wages thus exceedingly controlling the labor process in a capitalist society (Pagano 1417). In his analysis, Braverman argues that such effects negatively affect the social and cultural system that is supported by the social division of labor thus contributing to the emergence of a polarized capitalist society in which a mass of the laborers are found at the bottom while a small section of powerful elites only controls the top.(Braverman 57). Workers are transformed into a “labor force” under a capitalist system since the initial aim of the capitalist mode of production is minimizing costs incurred in acquiring labor and at the same time increasing capital or profits gained through maximizing productivity.

Differences between the Capitalist Movement of Work and Pre-Capitalist Forms

The capitalism system focuses on enhancing the value of capital by using productive labor. Capitalists aim at making a maximum profit through using the available labor and always focus on getting more value for the labor that has been employed than the cost that he or she has incurred when investing in that labor thus accumulating as much capital as possible through the profits made(Brophy 411). The interests of the capitalist class significantly shape the working environments of the labor force are by a great extent determined by the capitalist society. In a situation in which technology is continually changing, the capitalist is increasingly faced by the labor-management problem since there is a constant need of increasing the level of production with the aim of improving profit (Brophy 413). One of the labor-management issues that are faced by the capitalists is determining the most effective strategy in which labor can be bought and sold (Brophy 415).

Braverman suggests that, among other techniques that are used in controlling labor, various effects occur as a result of mechanization and scientific management of labor (Braverman 63). Across all industries, most of the management has since the early twentieth century is taking advantage of the ever-changing circumstances within the labor sector to impose different alienating practices onto their employees since mechanization and scientific techniques have made it possible for them to gain more control over their employees(Hudis 54). Capitalism movement of work has mainly been facilitated by the emergence of scientific management and mechanism which has seen the replacement of human labor with machines within most of the industries(Kelly 298). Taylorism that emerged following the introduction of capitalism led to the replacement of most of the pre-capitalist forms which are mainly characterized by low labor division in most of the industries that were existing (Kelly 302). Taylorism is considered to have replaced the crafting system that was living in the pre-capitalist period whereby there were indirect forms of employment and control that were relatively personalized and not interactive (Kelly 305).

According to Braverman, the aim of the capitalist economy to facilitate its progress using the available free labor has significantly contributed to the continued degradation of labor. One of the critical determinants of the Babbage Principle is the division of labor (Braverman 64). The Babbage Principle suggests that capitalists try to purchase labor at the lowest price possible and at the same time focuses on splitting the production process in a repetitive manner(Tinel 255). The decrease in the number of skilled artisans, the transformation of the working class and increase in the number of mass workers can be associated with the connection that exists between the Babbage Principle and the division of labor (Tinel 257). By borrowing on Taylorism theory of Frederick Winslow Taylor, Braverman focuses most of his argument on the possible outcomes that emanate from scientific management of labor and how organizations are using the knowledge and skills of the employees to advance their activities (Braverman 68). This contrary to the pre-capitalist period in which there was a limited division of labor and most of the organizations did not rely on the existing knowledge of the employees (Hudis 56). Unlike most of the craftsmen during the pre-capitalist period who relied on the knowledge of how to produce a variety of things, most of the factory workers after the emergence of the capitalist have lost oversight of the production process thus limiting their knowledge and skills (Hudis 57). Contrary to the high level of independence that existed in craftsmen among other people in various labor activities during the pre-capitalist, most of the workers in the capitalist society have increasingly been subordinated to a system where the management makes all the plans and decision that are relatively disliked by the employees given the fact that they disempower them (Hudis 59).

Social Consequences in Capitalism Production

There exist various social implications that tend to emerge in a capitalist organization of production, and they are either positive or negative. For instance, class struggles are known to be a significant element of capitalist accumulation in the production process(Thelen 138). The two major determinants of the class struggle in capitalist society are both capital and labor and the uneven pattern that has been taken by the process of capitalist accumulation over the years has dramatically intensified this social aspect (Thelen 141). Differences in the socio-economic interest in the society have resulted in a rapid increase in tensions between the different social classes that are present within the societies (Braverman 87). Across the globe, social struggles have been experienced either directly or indirectly. In the direct form, different social classes are considered to fight over the available cheap labor and other resources while in the indirect form, conflict occurs as a result of low wages, inadequate and unsafe working conditions and even as a result of both poverty and starvation (Thelen 143). Moreover, class struggle has in the past one century being experienced politically through the efforts of politicians to make laws that result in unfair labor practices and destruction of labor unions (Thelen 144).

Another social implication of the capitalist organization of production is the social instability or alienation that occurs in society as a result of the continued erosion of both values and standards (Braverman 89). Such alienation is also known as anomie is in most cases brought about by the continued emergence of unchecked economic progress that takes place within the society thus resulting in occurrence of changes in the normalness that is had once prevailed in various segments of social regulation (Thelen 147). Additionally, inequality is also a social implication that can be attributed to the capitalist organization of labor. There is an increased need for correcting the natural mechanism that has caused unequal economic systems to emerge despite the economic ability that is inherent in capitalism (Thelen 148). The ability of only few individuals to have maximum control over the available resources in the community has significantly contributed to such inequalities since in most cases, this small group of people having such controlling power of the available resources always end up using them to serve their interest rather than those of the entire society(Braverman 89). These individuals are also known for extensively exploiting the existing human resources who primarily rely on the provision of labor as a means of meeting their needs thus implying that more benefits are only attained by the capitalists who focus on accessing cheap labor that those in the lower socio-economic class are willing to provide (Thelen 148). It is only through creating an economic system that promotes equal distribution of wealth and diverse in the way it establishes sources of income that this problem can completely be eradicated. However, capitalist organization of production also has positive social implications such as supporting the emergence of new methods of productions that have facilitated the production of high-quality products and services that can meet the daily necessities of people (Thelen 153). Furthermore, capitalism has led to the emergence and development of industrialization that has resulted in the creation of new job opportunities and an increase in levels of production.

The Way ‘Rice’s Play’ Helps in Illustrating the Effects Described by Braverman

According to the Elmer Rice’s play, “The Adding Machine,” the replacement of the workers by machines when it comes to completing tasks has had a significant effect on the humans especially those that belong in the working age(Rivas 22). In the play, Rice explores the different effects that are associated with capitalist rationalization which is a concept that Braverman extensively explores in his book, “Labor and Monopoly Capitalism”(Rivas 27). Rice also critically analyzes the actual far-reaching effects that occur as a result of the replacement of manual labor by machine-based labor and how dehumanizing capitalism has proven to be (Rivas 29). According to Rice who similarly to Braverman dislikes capitalism, the level of alienation that is caused by capitalism can be considered as equivalent to the domination of the living by the dead (Rivas 31).

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