Lecture 2

Lecture 2 - Alienated Labor Adam Smith and the...

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Unformatted text preview: Alienated Labor Adam Smith and the “manufacturing” division of labor (“detailed” division of labor) In The Wealth of Nations , Adam Smith gave the following example of the manufacturing division of labor and its consequences, based on a manufactory that made pins: “One man draws out the wire, another straightens it, a third cuts it, a fourth points it, a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head; to make the head requires two or three distinct operations; to put it on, is a peculiar business, to whiten the pins is another; it is even a trade by itself to put them into the paper; and the important business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations, which, in some manufactories, are all performed by distinct hands, though in others the same man will sometimes perform two or three of them. The great increase in the quantity of work, which, in consequence of the division of labor, the same number of people are capable of performing, is owning to three different circumstances; first, to the increase of dexterity in every particular workman; secondly, to the saving of time which is commonly lost in passing from one species of work to another; and lastly, to the invention of a great number of machines which facilitate and abridge labour, and enable one man to do the work of many.” Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations (Chicago: University of Chicago press, 1976 [1776]), , Book 1, p. 8. Movie Clips from A Nous la Liberté (manufacturing division of labor) Movie Clips from modern Times (modern assembly line) Difficult passages This fact simply means that the object that labour produces, its product, stands opposed to it as something alien , as a power independent of the producer. The product of labour is labour embodied and made material in an object, it is the objectification of labour. The realization of labour is its objectification. In the sphere of political economy, this realization of labour appears as a loss of reality for the worker, [1] objectification as loss of and bondage to the object, and appropriation as estrangement, as alienation . [2] So much does the realization of labour appear as loss of reality that the worker loses his reality to the point of dying of starvation. So much does objectification appear as loss of the object that the worker is robbed of the objects he needs most not only for life but also for work. Work itself becomes an object which he can only obtain through an enormous effort and with spasmodic interruptions. So much does the appropriation of the object appear as estrangement that the more objects the worker produces the fewer can he possess and the more he falls under the domination of his product, of capital....
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This note was uploaded on 07/02/2008 for the course SOC 101 taught by Professor Mark during the Spring '08 term at UCLA.

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Lecture 2 - Alienated Labor Adam Smith and the...

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