Division of Labour

Its importance is analogous to the various organs, muscles, tendons, veins and cells of the body – that each must play its part and coordinate in order for the entire human body to function and live normally. Adam Smith (2003) explained this by positing how division of labor is the foundation of the wealth of nations. In his book, Wealth of Nations, he underscored this by immediately discussing its merits in the very first chapter of his work, which essentially pointed to the fact that such division of work is the reason for the increase in productiveness of labor and, henceforth, a country’s wealth. Division of Labor in History There are so many explanations that seek to define the roots of division of labor. For example, Karl Marx (2007)in the Capital, stated: The foundation of every division of labor which has attained a certain level of development, and has been brought about by exchange of commodities, is the separation of town from country. One might say that the whole history of society is summed up by this antithesis. (p. 287) Marx’s theory emphasizes a sociological characteristic wherein an economy is portioned into independent firms and industries. Perelman (2000) demonstrated this further by commenting that for Marx, the conventional social division of labor concerns the organization within the factory [for instance], where the employer divides the work among the employees, hence it describes hoe work is actually divided up between different workplaces that are, in turn, coordinated by market relations instead of an authority figure within the workplace. (p. 59) Marx’s theory implies that the phenomenon a little bit later than the antiquity and was only fully realized during the modern period when machinery and capitalism had been invented. Other thinkers posit different opinions. Smith, for instance, was bent on the contrasting idea of division of labor as simply the organization and specialization of work within the workplace. If one is to follow this thinking, then division of labor has existed in the ancient times. As previously mentioned, some semblance to it could be identified in the ancient Egyptian and Indian societies. Perhaps the simplest example that could be provided in this regard is that of the family. Since time immemorial, gender or sexual differences had played key roles in the division of labor within it. In ancient China, for instance, this division is considered as an ideal virtue, crucial in maintaining harmonious family relationship. (Gamble 1963, p. 245) Here, husbands dealt with external matters while the wives managed the affairs within the family. Also, figurines from the Classic Maya island site of Jaina in the Yucatan peninsula suggest division of labor based on gender as well. They showed variety of activities, showing women grinding corn, weaving and using pots while men’s were focused on activities that require strength. (McKillop 2004, p. 123) The family also played an important part in the division of labor outside of the domestic realm. One can turn to the example provided by ancient American metalworking. Bruhns and Stothert (1999) recounted that Peruvian smelters were worked by family groups: Men and adolescents would have supplied the lung power for smelting, while other members of the family could break up the ore for charging furnace and later extract the