Sociology of Work

Topics: Capitalism, Sociology, Industrial Revolution Pages: 5 (1649 words) Published: May 7, 2013

Student Registration No(s): 12011264
Module Title: People, Work and Organizations
Module Leader: David Spicer
Tutor: Jenny Allen
Word count: 1011 words
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The social study of work has always played a central part in sociology. It has necessarily done this, given that sociology emerged and developed as a way of coming to terms with fundamental changes associated with industrialisation and the rise of capitalism(Watson, 2003; 53). Watson acknowledges that changes in the way work is structured have been at the heart of the social and historical shifts, with which sociology has always engaged. Watson’s observation compromises the reason for which the aim of this essay is to explore not only the stages work has passed through since humans have developed as a community with work not separated from home until the industrialisation and the changing division of labour, but also the relations “between the work and the social milieu in which the worker moves” (Miller, William; 9). In the pre-industrial era (1500-1750) the main kind of work were all non-industrial. There did not exist a division of labour, mechanisation implying tools or machineries which help individuals to carry out tasks easier. Prior of the advent of the industrial capitalism in England, work was seen only as a way of satisfying the basic need of survival for the vast majority of individuals at a subsistence level. It is in the recent past that work has become synonymous with regular paid employment. In the past work was seen more as an obligatory activity that was essential for the human to carry out in order to sustain himself and his family rather than a way of developing his skills. In the pre-industrial era the essential feature of work was to meet immediate needs of human like food, shelter and clothing. One of the most common work activities at that moment among most civilisations was hunting, gathering crops, gardening and fishing. The earliest known human societies were based on hunting and gathering. Biological inequalities between males and female led to the preparation of the adult male for fishing, hunting and building shelter for their families. Women were more involved in domestic work like taking care of children, cooking, cleaning and sometimes contributing to the building of shelters. At that time animals were playing a very important role in society because of their versatile usage. Animals, beside being a source of food providing individuals with milk and meat they were also used to pull a plough which was the predominant method of cultivation. For the vast majority work was not separated from home, with the household being the unit of production as well as consumption. Despite the fact that there existed a conjunction between household and work enabling humans to have their own crops, that did not mean that the wealthy people did not exploit the poor ones. In addition to that, another important factor was the Roman Catholic Church, as Watson states, which played a significant role in the way individuals live. The common ideology provided by the Catholic Church offered to its partisans.

The industrial capitalist society broke the ice somewhere in the 19th century with the establishment of new sources of inanimate energy to run machineries, replacing water, wind and human or animal power. Because of the invention of the condensing steam engine used to power cotton machinery in 1785 which marked the era in terms of innovation, the industrial capitalist period was considered to be breaking down skill divisions and producing a mass of unskilled workers. Watson defines the industrial capitalism as a form of society in...

Bibliography: of British Industrial Relations,Cambridge, Cambridge University Press
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