Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Brief History of the Sociology of Work

Throughout the history the “work” has transformed in parallel with the type of the society. There are mainly four types of society: Hunting and Gathering, Horticulture, Agrarian, and Industrial societies. In addition to this classification, it is possible to add the Knowledge Society to this classification.

Hunting and gathering societies were essentially nomadic and small-scale societies, had limited technology, and did not to produce a regular economic surplus. Male and female were equal in the sense that they all share the work since the survival of the group depended on the co-operation rather than competition.
Horticultural societies’ emergence based on the cultivation of plants and the domestication of animals. Use of metal instead of stone for tools and weapons, the increase in the population size, socio-economic specialization as workers and warriors, male domination, increase in trade are all properties of these types of societies. Women do most of the work in these societies where as men dominated the politics, religion and military.

Agrarian societies emerged with the widespread use of the plough and usage of the animal power for agriculture and transport. The animal power used in agriculture instead of human power, increased the agricultural output, which led bigger gains/profits in trade, and helped the increase of the population more and more. The specialization of people (working class) and the increasing power of non-productive class (feudal lords and church) led to a deeper stratification of the classes. The non-productive class saw the “work” as a necessary evil and did not ever took part in it; they concentrated on politics, religion and military. Meanwhile the working class worked and fought to survive under the command of landlords.

The main differences between the pre-industrial and industrial societies are that there were no or short term of profit, animal energy is widely used, unit of production is mainly the family, low degree of differentiation in division of labour, irregular or seasonal terms of employment, minimum level of education was available, purpose of work is subsistence, and payment was done in kind or cash in pre-industrial societies, whereas in industrial societies inanimate energy is used, unit of production are individual adults and organizations, high degree of differentiation in division of labour, regular or permanent terms of employment, extensive and specialized education was available, meaning of work is virtue, and payment was done in wages or profits.

Throughout time, women lost ground in society and managed to find lesser role in work life; from being an equal participant of the work to being only able to do the housework. In the first years of industrialization, women were preferred in textile and mining sectors since they work for lesser wage and were easy to control than men.

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