The pivotal second chapter of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, "Of the Principle which gives occasion to the Division of Labour," opens with the oft-cited claim that the foundation of modern political economy is the human "propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another."1 This formulation plays both an analytical and normative role. It offers an anthropological microfoundation for Smith's understanding of how modern commercial societies function as social organizations, which, in turn, provide a venue for the expression and operation of these human proclivities. Together with the equally famous concept of the invisible hand, this sentence defines the central axis of a new science of political economy
The division of labor is a complex phenomenon that is characterized by varying aspects of an individual’s social connection to the society in which they reside. The Division of labor is a broad process that affects and influences many aspects of life such as political, judicial, and administrative functions (Bratton & Denham, 2014). Two of the main sociological theorists, Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim, had different understandings of the notion about the division of labor. This topic has been contested and debated by many theorists but this paper is going to focus on how Emile Durkheim and Karl Marx views this topic. Karl Marx views the division of labor as a process that alienates the individual from their work (Llorente, 2006). Marx also views the division of labor as a way for the capitalist bourgeoisie to take advantage of the wage labor of the proletariat. Emile Durkheim identifies with Marx in the economic sense that the division of labor furthers the rationalization and bureaucratization of labor, but differs in that the division of labor provides individuals in society with social solidarity and ensures their connection to society. This paper is going to reflect on some of the aspects in which Emile Durkheim and Karl Marx view the division of labor, while showing some of the similarities and differences between the two theorists conception of the topic.
Division of labour is also credited with the rise of trade between different areas, the rise of capitalism, and increasingly complex manufacturing and industrialization. For Karl Marx, the production portion of Capitalism signalled great trouble. He believed production in Capitalist society worked in a way that the rich factory owner benefited and the poor factory workers lost. In his manner of reasoning, the Capitalist system was inherently meant to benefit the rich and exploit the poor: “All the bourgeois economists are aware of is that production can be carried on better under the modern police than on the principle of might makes right. They forget only that this principle is also a legal relation, and that the right of the stronger prevails in their ‘constitutional republics’ as well, only in another form.”[ii] Marx’s view of society and the world lead him to believe that humans create change in their lives and in their environment through practical activity in the practical world.
Karl Marx and Adam Smith wrote in the same time period – during the industrial revolution, where the bourgeois had risen to power by oppressing and exploiting the proletariat. The term bourgeois refers to the people in the class of modern capitalists, owners of the means of social production and employers of wage labor. The proletarians are the people in the class of modern wage laborers who, having no means of production of their own, are reduced to selling their labor power in order to live. While Smith, in his Wealth of Nations, wrote in favor of capitalism, Marx, in his Communist Manifesto, was a harsh critic of the system and declared its inevitable destruction and consequent rise of the working class.
The simplistic perception of capitalist society varies greatly among Smith and Marx. Smith believed that capitalism is a mechanism designed to curb man's selfishness and put it to work for the general good of all (Baumol, 1976). Conversely, Marx believed that capitalism is based on neither good nor evil, but a product of historical circumstances or experience (Baumol, 1976). Marx also believed that the law of motion in capitalism frustrates, rather than facilitates, the individual ends (wealth). Marx believed that wealth divides capitalists by class, and that workers must develop in a universal class (Levine, 1998). Marx also disagreed with Smith in believing that production must cease to be a labor process if it
In the Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith talks about international trade and subsequent government policies which became increasingly significant throughout modern history. Protectionism is the term for economic policies of restraining trade between countries when they want to protect their domestic industries from foreign competition. Trades nowadays have different forms and methods and involve more businessmen as well as consumers, which is why trade diplomats are looking to regional agreements. The US experienced two major economic declines during the 20th century, both of which had much to do with international trade. Smith mentioned tariffs in the 18th century, but the role and forms of protectionism have changed across time, so we should know whether the development of economy should actually be correlated with or decided by the political sector of the society and when protectionism will benefit or hurt economy.
Adam Smith and Karl Marx are both famous for their philosophies on economics, more specifically the division of labor. For each of them the division of labor is rather similar in its definition, but the outcome of the division of labor differs drastically from Smith to Marx. For Smith the division of labor leads to mass production and allows large amounts of people to get things that were once available only to the rich. Smith believes that small specialized tasks leads to the invention of new technologies, and that individuals working selfishly to better themselves in the capitalistic world is beneficial to everyone. For Marx the division of labor is more about the relationship between the employee and the employer. He believes that
According to Adam Smith’s, The Wealth of Nation, the best economic benefits for all can be achieved when an individual concerned with their own interests. Self-interest is when an individual makes decisions that are in their own benefit or best interest over any other parties involved (Book 1 chapter 2 §2). Smith argues that the idea of individual continuously make decisions that benefits their own situation will eventually lead to achieving better quality of life for everyone. Hence, people wouldn’t have to depend on other to make the decisions for them and encourages division of labour within the society (Book 1 chapter 2 §3). Withal the theory of self-interest is alike with selfish in our words, therefore the following essay explores how these two concepts differ. Nevertheless, Smith is also aware that the theory of self-interest may cause dispute between master and workers, thus he suggests a resolution to this kind of dispute. Accordingly, along with an example of worker’s dispute, this essay evaluates whether the resolution that Smith suggested is feasible in the modern society.
Smith and Marx agree upon the importance of capitalism as unleashing productive powers. Capitalism is born out of the division of labour... that is, it is made possible by dividing jobs up into simple tasks as a way of increasing efficiency. By increasing efficiency, then everyone can produce more than they personally need. The extra produced can go towards the accumulation of capital, (machines, more land, more tools, etc) which will allow for even more increased efficiency and production. Both thought that this increased production was great. But Marx said that capitalism was only one stage... that every country must go through capitalism, to get that increased production, but that capitalism is
controlled the society he lived in. In the process, he provides an exposition for his vision
is when the division of labour has been once thoroughly established, it is but a small part of a man’s want which the produce of his own labour can supply. He supplies the far greater part of them by exchanging that surplus part of the produce of his own labour, which is over and above his own consumption, for such parts of the produce of other’s men’s labour as he has occasion for. Every man thus lives by exchanging, or becomes in some measure a merchant, and the society itself grows to be what is properly a commercial society (Smith, 2003, p. 37).
This developing liberal trend within the middle class produced conditions that allowed for the exploring of social thinkers such as John Locke, a philosopher of the 17th century, who theorised on politics and liberty and the individual. Then there was the Magna-Carta adding further to the liberal maelstrom of the political debate at this time. There was Adam Smith, who promoted a laissez-fare approach to economics, which was a further expression of liberal thinking. Smith’s book, ‘The wealth of a Nation’ heralded new thoughts about trade and the market. He suggested that the market should be left to regulate itself, reducing governmental control. This gave the enterprise class further opportunity to break with the old restricted practices of
There is perhaps not a more famous ongoing dialectic argument in the field of political economy than the one between Adam Smith and Karl Marx in regards to capitalism. The two thinkers, although coming to radically different conclusions about the outcomes of the capitalist system for all parties involved, agree on a surprising number of ideas such as labor being the source of commodities’ value, as well as the fact that the division of labor increases productivity. However, their different conceptions of what determines the price of a commodity, the driving force behind and the effects of the division of labor, and the purpose of the capitalist system have widespread implications that cause their holistic arguments to diverge considerably.
The philosophy of Karl Marx begins with the belief that humans are inherently cooperative with common characteristics and shared ends. To human beings, life is considered an object and therefore, humans make their “life-activity itself the object of his will and of his consciousness” (Tucker 76). In other words, humans are able to think, imagine, and “produce even when he is free from physical need and only truly produces in freedom therefrom” (p. 76). It exemplifies that idea that humans not only have the capability to create things for survival but express themselves in what they produce, within the standards of the human race or universally. When capitalist wage-labor enters the picture, it forces these shared ends and the freedom of expression in human production to cease, causing a rise of competitiveness among
Tremendous economic and technological growth marked by the industrial revolution that was beginning to take shape at in the 19th century. With this change also brought a process of greater specialization in the workforce, also known as the division of labor. Both Karl Marx and Emile Durkheim, under this context of burgeoning market economy, sought to understand modern society and the underlying relations that lead to their formation and progress. In this essay, I will argue that while both Marx and Durkheim acknowledge the role of economic growth as a main driver of human society in their theories, they differ on the type of social relations that developed in tandem, relations that formed the basis of the division of labor. Marx (1978, p. 212) views the division of labor as a result of the capitalism driven by profit, while Durkheim (1984, p. 1) sees it as a necessary condition for social progress. Next, I will also explore differences both writers posit as the consequences for this process, relating to both Marx’s theory of labor alienation and Durkheim’s idea of organic solidarity.