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Smith Wealth of Nations(1) (1) - AN INQUIRY INTO THE NATURE...

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AN INQUIRY INTO THE NATURE AND CAUSESOF THE WEALTH OF NATIONS (1776)Adam Smithabridged by Isaac KramnickBook I, Chapter 1: Of the Division of LabourThe greatest improvements in the productive powers of labour, and the greater part of the skill,dexterity, and judgment, with which it is anywhere directed, or applied, seem to have been theeffects of the division of labour. The effects of the division of labour, in the general business ofsociety, will be more easily understood, by considering in what manner it operates in someparticular manufactures. It is commonly supposed to be carried furthest in some very triflingones; not perhaps that it really is carried further in them than in others of more importance: but inthose trifling manufactures which are destined to supply the small wants of but a small number ofpeople, the whole number of workmen must necessarily be small; and those employed in everydifferent branch of the work can often be collected into the same workhouse, and placed at onceunder the view of the spectator.In those great manufactures, on the contrary, which are destined to supply the great wants of thegreat body of the people, every different branch of the work employs so great a number ofworkmen, that it is impossible to collect them all into the same workhouse. We can seldom seemore, at one time, than those employed in one single branch. Though in such manufactures,therefore, the work may really be divided into a much greater number of parts, than in those of amore trifling nature, the division is not near so obvious, and has accordingly been much lessobserved.To take an example, therefore, from a very trifling manufacture, but one in which the division oflabour has been very often taken notice of, the trade of a pin-maker: a workman not educated tothis business (which the division of labour has rendered a distinct trade), nor acquainted with theuse of the machinery employed in it (to the invention of which the same division of labour hasprobably given occasion), could scarce, perhaps, with his utmost industry, make one pin in a day,and certainly could not make twenty. But in the way in which this business is now carried on, notonly the whole work is a peculiar trade, but it is divided into a number of branches, of which thegreater part are likewise peculiar trades. One man draws out the wire; another straights it; a thirdcuts it; a fourth points it; a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head; to make the headrequires two or three distinct operations; to put it on is a peculiar business; to whiten the pins isanother; it is even a trade by itself to put them into the paper; and the important business ofmaking a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations, which, in somemanufactories, are all performed by distinct hands, though in others the same man will sometimesperform two or three of them. I have seen a small manufactory of this kind, where ten men only

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Term
Summer
Professor
N/A
Tags
Calculus, Division, The Wealth of Nations, Division of Labour, Capital accumulation, Value added, Surplus product, Productive and unproductive labour

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