Sociology of Work

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I previously worked in an elementary school as a teacher’s assistant under the direction and guidance of a classroom teacher. This position was a seasonal since I was assigned this particular role during summer school for elementary students. I have worked as a teacher’s assistant for a total of three summers at this school, however, I quit this position due to the repetitive tedious tasks I was assigned and also due to employee unfairness. The elementary school in which I worked in consisted of students from grades one to grade, and I was assigned as a teacher’s assistant to the grade two classrooms. There were a total of fifteen teachers, five teacher’s assistants, one caretaker, and one principle. Some of the duties and responsibilities I was assigned include assisting the children’s activities initiated by the classroom teacher, photocopying and stapling learning materials provided by the teacher, preparing academic and learning material, assisting in the observation of students while they engaged in educational activities and assignments and fulfilling administrative duties during the lunch hour. The Wealth of Nation by Adam Smith highlights the importance of the division of labour, which is the separation of a work process into many specialized tasks, with each task performed by a separate individual or groups of individuals, in maximizing economic growth. The specialization of the labour force results increases work efficiency because each work is an expert in one area of production. Workers do not have to switch tasks or alternate between different tasks during their working hours, thus both time and money is saved (Krahn, Lowe, & Hughes, 2011). Although Adam Smith stressed the various benefits associated with the division of labour, this may not be true for the majority of cases. The teacher’s assistants did not have the same education, credentials, and experiences like the classroom teachers, thus the teacher’s assistants were provided with mainly repetitive and tedious tasks and also experienced some unfairness. The distribution of knowledge and qualification structure is important to the division of labour, and is dependent on the educational system (Dahlstrom, 1980).

According to the Adams & Adams (2008), one of the two most important characteristics contributing to job satisfaction is the extent to which work is autonomous, challenging, and interesting. Workers tend to rank “interesting work” as the most important factor contributing to their job satisfaction. Workers who are not closely supervised and whose jobs require various complex tasks are much less likely to be alienated than workers with little occupational self-direction. However, the division of labour results in repetitive, narrow, and highly directed work and feelings of powerlessness. Thus, the division of labour may not be all that glamorous as proposed by Adam Smith because the division of labour causes workers to experience alienation, which ultimately results in low levels of job satisfaction, sabotage, and turnover rates.

In primitive societies, work roles were assigned primarily according to age and gender. However, due to economic development, these roles became more specialized. The birth of industrial capitalism augmented this process. Previously craftworkers had the advantage of being able to determine their own conditions, but this craft control declined as Canada moved into the industrial era. Dividing jobs into numerous simple tasks allowed work to be performed by less skilled and lower-paid employees (Krahn et al, 2011).The division of labour of my former workplace was neither gendered nor racialized, but rather involved the level of education. Classroom teachers possessed an undergraduate degree and a bachelor’s of education. Since the teacher’s assistants and especially volunteers did not possess the same credentials, education, or experience as the classroom teachers, they were bombarded with a countless number of...
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