What Is Economics? What Role Does the Division of Labour Play in Defining This Subject Matter?

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What is the subject matter of economics? What role does the “division of labour” play in defining this subject matter?

Quoting Michael Yates, “The subject matter of economics is the production and distribution of output…” (Yates, 2003). So what does this say to me? Simplifying, this says to me that Economics is a way of explaining the world. With studies dating as far back as Aristotle’s interest in the various forms of state, how can one ever fully understand the complexities of economic thought and how could one definition ever sum up the entirety of what economists endeavour to understand? (Meikle, Scott, 1995) The study of economics attempts to understand and to explain how and why the wealth of the world is produced,
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The division of labour does not only refer to the dividing of complex tasks into simple tasks so that many, easily replaceable labourers, complete one task over and over to produce a product, (associated mainly with the industrial revolution); the division of labour refers to the division of labour between organizations. In modern times, labourers from individual organizations produce goods for another organization rather than directly for a consumer. That organization then uses those goods, combined with their own, to produce a final product. This deepening of the division of labour resulted in the progressive substitution of self-sufficient production with industrial production and market exchange. (Schmidt, 2009) These worldwide networks and interdependencies between organizations, combined with the division of labour within the individual organization, further the disconnect between workers and the ownership of their work. They lose pride of workmanship, close personal relationships, direct access to the means of production, and they become “a mere appendage to the cold, implacable, pace-setting machine” (Hunt & Sherman, 1986). Their work, or labour, is owned by the capitalist that owns the organization in which they work and they are left virtually powerless to control the economy in which they live. The labour of a CEO

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