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Unformatted text preview: CHAPTER 4. THE GAINS FROM THE DIVISION OF LABOR 1. The division of labor is a system of pro- duction in which the labor required to support human life and well-being is broken down into separate, dis- tinct occupations. 2. In a division-of-labor society, the individ- ual lives by producing, or helping to produce, just one thing or at most a very few things, which are con- sumed overwhelmingly by others, and is supplied by the labor of others for the far greater part of his needs. 3. The multiplication of knowledge a. exists to the extent that labor is divided into separate occupations and suboccupations, because each of these has its own specialized body of knowledge b. makes possible the production of products that would otherwise be impossible because of the in- ability of any given individual or small group of individuals to hold the necessary knowledge c. both (a) and (b) 4. Compared with division-of-labor societies, non-division-of-labor societies, such as those com- prised of large numbers of essentially self-sufficient farm families, entail a wasteful duplication of the men- tal contents of the human brain. 5. The division of labor makes it possible for geniuses to specialize in science, invention, and the or- ganization and direction of the productive activity of others, thereby further and progressively increasing the knowledge used in production. 6. An important advantage of the division of labor is that individuals at all levels of ability can con- centrate on the kind of work for which they are best suited on the basis of differences in their intellectual and bodily endowments. 7. The geographical gains from the division of labor refer to the fact that under a system of divi- sion of labor, each area tends to concentrate to an im- portant extent on the exploitation of any advantages it may possess in terms of natural resources and climate conditions, with the result that each territory that par- ticipates in the division of labor is able to gain the ben- efit of the special advantages of every other such territory. 8. In producing more iron than is required by its inhabitants, Minnesota a. wastes a scarce, precious natural resource for the benefit of outsiders b. obtains the ability to obtain a wide variety of natural resources, agricultural commodities, and manufactured products that it itself either cannot produce at all or cannot produce very efficiently 9. Participation in the division of labor is es- sential to the ability of any geographical area to ex- ploit its natural resources effectively, in that, for example, the ability to produce iron and steel from the iron ore of Minnesota depends on the availability of coal from West Virginia or Wyoming, and the ability to mine coal depends on the use of steel drills and steel structural supports in coal mines....
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- Spring '10
- Economics, Productive forces