Manual Re-negotiating Gender: Household Division of Labor when She Earns More than He Does

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Key factors that differ between the control and commitment approaches are job design principles, performance expectations, management organization structure, systems, and style , compensation policies, employment assurances, employee input in policies, and labor-management relations Walton, The control-oriented approach is based on the classic bureaucratic principles of specialization and division of labor.

In the control-oriented environment, worker commitment does not flourish. Division of labor can ultimately reduce productivity and increase costs to produce units. Several reasons are identified as causes for reduction in productivity. For example, productivity can suffer when workers become bored with the monstrous repetition of a task.

Additionally, productivity can be affected when workers lose pride in their work because they are not producing an entire product they can identify as their own work. A breakdown in the mass production line can bring an entire production line to a standstill. Also, with highly specialized jobs, worker training can be so narrowly focused that workers cannot move among alternate jobs easily. Consequently, productivity can suffer when one key worker is absent. Finally, discontent with control is increasing in today's work force, further hindering the long-term success of the classic bureaucratic application of specialization and division of labor.

In contrast to the control-oriented approach, the commitment-oriented approach proposes that employee commitment will lead to enhanced performance. Jobs are more broadly designed and job operations are upgraded to include more responsibility. Control and coordination depend on shared goals and expertise rather than on formal position. The control and commitment-oriented approaches are only one way to view the concepts of division of labor and specialization.

These concepts influenced organizations in the late s by a complex array of organizational dynamics. In response to such complex organizational dynamics as intense competitive pressures, organizations were being restructured. Hierarchies were becoming flatter, meaning that fewer levels of management existed between the lowest level of worker and top management. In some organizations, web-like and network organizational structures were replacing traditional hierarchical organizations Kerka, In these redesigned organizations, the shift was away from departments that focused on traditional organizational functions such as production, administration, finance, design, and marketing Lindbeck and Snower, In the restructured organizations, highly-specialized jobs disappeared in favor of workers performing a multitude of tasks within relatively small autonomous customer-oriented teams.

In these working groups, workers were given a broad task specification by management and within those loose constraints, the teams were allowed to organize, to allocate roles, to schedule tasks, and so forth Bessant, With this design, traditional occupational barriers and clear-cut specialized job descriptions began evaporating as workers were empowered to define their own job tasks.

This movement resulted in a decrease of the division of labor and specialization within firms. As a consequence of these changes, during the s increased division of labor between firms was often accompanied by a reduction in the division of labor within firms. In other words, while firms were becoming more specialized in the products and services they offered, individual workers within firms were handling an increasing range and depth of job responsibilities. As mentioned earlier, this work was often completed in autonomous teams.

In some organizations, division of labor and the degree of specialization are being reduced, while in other organizations, division of labor and specialization are increasing. A number of factors can influence this discrepancy among organizations. For example, the degree of specialization and division of labor can be related to the size of the organization; typically, small and mid-sized employers are not able to cost justify specialized division of labor.

Lindbeck and Snower report that, as the costs of communication among workers declines, the degree of specialization, and consequently, division of labor within organizations, may rise. Some literature reports that, as the size of the market increases, it supports more division of labor.

The degree of division of labor within firms can also depend on the degree to which performance on particular tasks is measurable, and the degree to which wages affect task performance. Implementation of technology can also have a profound influence on the division of labor in organizations. Computerization has enabled organizations to increase the variety of tasks performed by workers, consequently reducing specialization and division of labor. For example, information technology — flexible machine tools and programmable multipurpose equipment — can reduce the division of labor within firms as workers transfer their knowledge from task to task more easily.

Information and manufacturing technology can also enable individual workers or work teams to combine different tasks more readily to meet a customer's needs while enhancing productivity. For example, customer information gained from production activities can be used to improve financial accounting practices, and employee information gained from training activities can be used to improve work practices. Eric Alsene reported that increased integration of computer databases has the potential to profoundly alter task and functional assignments in organizations, consequently affecting division of labor and specialization.

Originally, the purpose of integrating computers into organizations was to merge the various functions of labor. Computer integration was designed to restructure businesses around their core business processes, outsourcing some activities to specialized external organizations and strengthening partnerships with suppliers and subcontractors. In the new culture shaped by computer integration, every worker was to have a broader view of the organization.

Workers were expected to work in teams with enhanced communication, participation, teamwork, and an enhanced sense of belonging and continuous learning. In this new organizational model enabled by technology, the classic bureaucratic mass production model in which workers performed functions separately and sequentially was eliminated. The computer integration model was designed to ultimately lead to the dismantling of vertical and horizontal barriers while supervisory control concentrated increasingly on work methods rather than on final products Child, In other words, the new design enabled organizations to focus on how products and services were delivered rather than on what products or services were delivered.

This design facilitated continuous improvement in the organization. The new technologies assisted in blurring the boundaries among departments while information flowed freely throughout the organization, thereby disregarding the traditional bureaucratic hierarchy. As work groups and task forces were formed, units no longer worked in isolation. The new model enabled by technology calls into question the traditional division of labor in organizations.

For example, flexible manufacturing systems eliminate the barrier between maintenance and production. This increased automation supports the movement described earlier of work becoming more diversified, independent, intellectual, and collective. The classic principles of division of labor and specialization still exist.

However, their application produces both functional and dysfunctional consequences in the increasingly complex organizations of the twenty-first century. A number of factors affect the modern application of division of labor. Along with other complex organizational and market dynamics, these factors include information technology, worker empowerment, human factors, communication systems, organizational size, competitive pressures, and organization structure.

Alsene, Eric Bessant, J. Child, J. Chichester: Wiley. Kerka, Sandra Trends and Issues Alerts. Lindbeck, Assar, and Snower, Dennis J. Walton, Richard E. Boston: Harvard Business Review. Division of labor , the parceling out of work based on various categories of identity, is understood commonly as a division made on the basis of gender. Indeed, food production, preparation, and even consumption are often differentiated on the basis of gender: men do some tasks and women do others.

For example, cooking is widely recognized as an essentially female task Murdock and Provost, p. However, division of labor can apply to class, ethnicity, and age as well, and these categories also intersect with how people produce, prepare, and consume food. The division of labor begins when food production begins, which is a pattern rooted in the history of humanity. The earliest humans tended to divide their work by category, where men hunted and fished and women gathered vegetable foods fruits, vegetables, grains, and nuts.

Among foraging societies, women still take on the greater portion of food-preparation tasks, such as grinding, pounding, boiling, and otherwise processing gathered and hunted foods into edible meals. For the few societies that still procure their food in the hunting-and-gathering strategy, a large percentage of the diet is made up of non-meat foods, with meat functioning as a much-desired and prized treat Lee, pp.

As societies adopted farming as a means of food production, dividing food production by gender persisted, yet much of this division was based on cultural understandings of gender rather than a physical advantage on the part of men or women. For example, among the Maring of New Guinea , numerous agricultural tasks are divided on the basis of gender: men and women together clear gardens, but only men fell trees. Both men and women plant crops, but weeding is a primary female occupation. At harvest time, men harvest above-ground crops and women harvest below-ground crops Rappaport, pp.

These are categories based on cultural understandings, similar to how grilling and barbecuing are identified as male tasks in many Western societies. An extreme case of agricultural specialization is found in much of sub-Saharan Africa, where subsistence agriculture is a predominantly, sometimes exclusively, female task. Agricultural economist Ester Boserup notes that in sub-Saharan cultures, the shift to a more urbanized society often reduces women's status, for although rural farm women may not be socially equal to their husbands, their work on farms is recognized and valued.

A shift into a more "Westernized" work pattern can eliminate what power such women do have pp. However, agricultural work patterns vary widely. In societies where plow agriculture is common, women are often likely to process food in the home, while the actual farm labor falls to men; yet even in those societies, women may weed and harvest or keep kitchen gardens.

In the United States , women's farm participation varies from negligible to great. The publication Marketing to Women notes that although the number of women farmers in the United States is on the rise, women tend to own the smallest farms. At the same time, women are far more likely to own their farms: fully 80 percent of women farmers are farm owners, in contrast to the 58 percent of male farmers who own their farms.

Food preparation, particularly that which occurs in the home and family, is most strongly associated with women and women's work. This is a pattern that has been documented widely. Journalist Laura Shapiro and food writer Ruth Reichl outline the history of this development in the United States in Perfection Salad , their account of the "domestic science" movement. As a result of this movement, women's work came to be viewed as professional, and cooking and other domestic activities were elevated to a woman's highest calling.

See also Cowan. Numerous works from a range of disciplines document this pattern. Among them are works by Sherrie A. Inness and the U. Similar patterns have emerged in other societies, although the underlying cultural ideals may differ. Anne Allison describes the great attention that Japanese mothers give to the preparation of their preschool children's boxed lunches.

Young children attend preschool from three to six years of age, where they bring elaborately prepared lunches with them. Mothers organize other family meals around lunch preparation and spend as much as forty-five minutes each morning preparing lunch for their preschoolers. Men never prepare such lunches, and no adult that Allison interviewed could ever recall their father preparing a lunch.

Indeed, the elaborate and beautifully presented lunch reflects well on the mother and signals her devotion to her children in the eyes of other mothers and of the preschool staff. The association of women and domestic food preparation is sufficiently strong that men's cooking requires explanation. In some societies, men prepare special or ritual meals.

The ethnographic film The Feast , by Timothy Asch, shows Yanomamo men preparing and eating a ritual meal, which is unusual in this strongly patriarchal Amazonian society. However, gender is not the only way that labor is divided. This is true for food preparation, as it is for many other types of labor. Class or rank is a major category of division. For example, among the affluent in society, in modern times as well as in the past, servants often prepare food for the household.

Also, certain kinds of foods might only be prepared or consumed by people of specific social classes. Archaeologist Christine Hastorf's work in Peru traced the preparation and consumption of corn, in the form of corn beer, through the pre-Incan and Incan periods. Using a sophisticated array of techniques, Hastorf compared the presence of corn pollens among different house sites and throughout neighborhoods. Over time, the presence of pollen, generally found in the patios and yards where women prepared food, was concentrated in the house sites of elite classes.

The preparation of corn slowly shifted from most women to elite women. Further comparisons of this type showed that over the same period of time, women's consumption of corn decreased overall, while men's consumption increased in elite neighborhoods. Hastorf hypothesized that with the rise of the Incan Empire, elite women became increasingly specialized corn-beer producers and elite men became the beer's main consumers.

Perhaps the most striking change in U. An increasing number of people pay to eat food that is prepared elsewhere, whether they pick up burgers at a drive-through restaurant, order pizza, or buy prepared meals in markets. This pattern has been noted for much of the past twenty years see Gonzales and continues to intensify. Allison, Anne. Asch, Timothy. The Feast. Watertown, Mass. Boserup, Ester. Woman's Role in Economic Development.

New York : St. Martin's Press, Cowan, Ruth Schwartz.

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Boston: Basic Books, Hastorf, Christine A. London: Blackwell, Hochschild, Arlie. New York : Avon, Inness, Sherrie A. Ames: University of Iowa Press, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, Lee, Richard B.


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Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Murdock, G. Rappaport, Roy. Prospect Heights: Waveland, Shapiro, Laura, and Ruth Reichl.

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New York : Modern Library, It denotes any stable organization, co-ordinating individuals, or groups carrying out different, but integrated activities. Its first and most celebrated use was in classical political economy , the precursor to modern economics. According to Adam Smith , division of productive labour greatly increases the wealth-creating capacity of a society. Unrestrained by government or administrative rules, the free market encourages producers to specialize in activities where they have a natural advantage.

By specializing they benefit from greater dexterity, more efficient use of materials and time, and from mechanization. Simultaneously, the hidden hand of competition penalizes insufficiently specialized by implication inefficient producers, and encourages the prudent rational exchange of goods and services. However, there can be different principles of specialization. Economics emphasizes specialization according to productivity, or quantity produced in relation to the costs of production.

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Organization theory , however, has long recognized that in practice conflicting criteria govern the division even of productive tasks. Considerations of the mental health of the worker psychological efficiency or the management of industrial unrest social efficiency actually limit the over-detailed specialization of tasks. Outside of productive organization, specialization may well be according to some qualitative criterion, whereby scale and quantitative productivity are relatively discounted for example in medicine or education.

Socio-geographers have also explored the spatial division of activity and power between different regions and localities. Co-ordination is itself a troublesome concept. The early political economists assumed that a single factor market competition between prudent individuals was enough to bring differentiated activities together so as to maximize public well-being. Yet they also recognized that a division of labour could take place on a number of levels, between different sectors of the economy, between occupations, or between individual tasks.

To this, classical sociology added the notion that modern societies as a whole are characterized by an extensive social division of labour, involving the specialization and interdependence of whole institutions and social processes. The extension of market competition, which is by definition divisive, is inadequate to explain the co-ordination of modern societies. Despite their many differences in outlook, the common theme of sociology's founders was that the division of labour is held together by power relations, ideology , and moral regulation.

Karl Marx , for example, argued that market processes express an underlying division of class power that is a property of the whole socio-economic complex and encompasses individual motives and actions. Class seriously distorts the division of labour as it might occur naturally between isolated and roughly equal individual producers. Antagonistic relations of production originated in the first place from the division of labour, because of arbitrary inequalities of advantage in exchange, and the ensuing dependence of the weaker on the stronger.

In turn, the subsequent form of the division of labour in any particular era reflects the struggle over the distribution of the surplus product, between the owners and non-owners of the means of production. Although historians and anthropologists have subsequently questioned the idea that premodern societies lacked a division of labour, Durkheim argued that traditional societies are integrated by so-called mechanical solidarity, in which emphasis is placed on the values and cognitive symbols common to the clan or tribe.

Individuals and institutions are thus relatively undifferentiated. Modern societies, he claimed, require the development of organic solidarity, in which beliefs and values emphasize individuality, encourage specialist talents in individuals, and the differentiation of activities in institutions.

But although the economic division of labour may have initiated such a way of life, by itself the unregulated market loosens restraints on individual desires, undermines the establishment of social trust, and produces abnormal forms of the division of labour.

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This is the source of his celebrated concept of anomie , and of the forced division of labour associated with class and political conflict. Full organic solidarity will require appropriate education; legal restraint on inheritance and other unjust contracts; and intermediary institutions to integrate individuals into occupational and industrial life.

With the possible exceptions of Friedrich Engels and Thorstein Veblen , the division of labour by sex or gender received only scant attention from the so-called founding fathers of sociology. Yet patriarchy is arguably the oldest example of a forced or exploitative division of social activities. Most societies operate a broad division of labour between men and women, in terms of their social, religious, and political functions, and specifically in relation to the work they perform. In the context of paid employment this is called occupational segregation; it is typically far more pronounced than segregation on the basis of race or religion in the labour-market.

A distinction is usually drawn between vertical and horizontal occupational segregation. Horizontal segregation arises when men and women do different types of work: in industrial societies jobs involving heavy manual labour are usually done by men, and women are concentrated in social welfare services.

Vertical segregation arises when men have a near monopoly of the higher status occupations that offer greater authority and better rewards, while women are concentrated in the lower-status jobs. It is never the other way round. Even in societies where horizontal occupational segregation is eroded by policies emphasizing social equality, a high degree of vertical occupational segregation persists. Recent feminist analysis has drawn on both power and moral types of explanation in order to explore invidious distinctions almost universally made between men's and women's social labour and social position, and the form the division of labour by gender has taken in industrial societies.

The "Disabling" Division of Labor

Power inequality is evident in the way the system of industrial production for many years existed alongside, and arguably relied upon, the domestication of women and their unpaid household labour. Persistent inequalities of reward, and the segmentation of labour-markets into areas of men's and women's work, are only slowly diminishing. Moral control is at work in the ideologies of the family, myths of romantic love, the duties of motherhood, and supposedly natural differences between the sexes which the socialization of boys and girls still encourages. Thus, despite modern doctrines of natural rights , women have often until recently at least been excluded from the legal and political guarantees which Durkheim considered to be essential if the division of labour was to be accompanied by organic solidarity.

A huge empirical and theoretical literature was then generated in a relatively short time. Early studies cast doubts on the optimistic view advanced, for example, by Michael Young and Peter Wilmott in The Symmetrical Family , that, especially among the middle classes, husband and wife were increasingly sharing in the complementary hitherto largely segregated tasks of earning a wage and running a household.

Thus, Robert O. Blood and Donald M. Research by Rhona and Robert N. More recent studies have documented in great detail the extent to which the traditional allocation of domestic tasks to women remains largely unaltered. An excellent summary of the findings from this explosion of research is Lydia Morris's The Workings of the Household Reviewing the results to date, she concludes that the American and British studies produce parallel findings, the most important of which are as follows: women, including employed women, continue to bear the main burden of domestic work; men's slightly increased participation in domestic labour does not offset women's increased employment; women in part-time employment fare worst, possibly because of a life-cycle effect, which creates extra work associated with caring for young children; men tend nevertheless to be more involved with domestic tasks at this stage of the life-cycle than at other stages; there is relative stability in the level of housework time expended by men whether the wife works or not.

Differences in emphasis and on points of detail across these studies are interesting, but insignificant when set against the central and often confirmed finding echoed by Sarah F. Division of labor is closely tied with the standardization of production, the introduction and perfection of machinery, and the development of large-scale industry. Among the different categories of division of labor are territorial, in which certain geographical regions specialize in producing certain products, exchanging their surplus for goods produced elsewhere; temporal, in which separate processes are performed by different industrial groups in manufacturing one product, as the making of bread by farmers, millers, and bakers; and occupational, in which goods produced in the same industrial group are worked by a number of persons, each applying one or more processes and skills.


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Modern mass-production techniques are based on the last type. The proficiency attained through experience at one task and the time saved by concentration on one phase of an operation are such that the total production is many times what it would be had each worker made the complete article. The classic example is that given by Adam Smith , advocate of free trade of which the division of labor is the underlying principle , in which 10 men, each performing one or more of the 18 operations necessary to make a pin, together produce 48, pins a day, whereas working separately they could not make Problems created by the division of labor include the monotony of concentration on routine tasks, technological unemployment for people whose skills are not in demand, and eventually chronic unemployment if the economy does not expand quickly enough to reabsorb the displaced labor.

Each variant of the division of labor has its own peculiar problems of distribution. See R. Brady, Organization, Automation, and Society ; E. Durkheim, The Division of Labor in Society tr. Bowen and G. Mangum, ed. Division of labor refers to the specialization of jobs in any complex economy, particularly in a manufacturing enterprise. Since the British writer Adam Smith — , economists have noted that division of labor is the most important feature of modern capitalism. Smith showed how several people with different skills are required to manufacture even a simple object like a pin; each person specializes in his own aspect of the job.

Division of labor allows workers to become expert at a single task and to perform it very quickly; therefore, it allows great precision in the manufacturing process. Division of labor makes the modern consumer economy possible, because a person can use the wages from one specialized job to buy all the other products he or she needs, rather than trying to produce everything themselves. A downside of division of labor is can lead to mind-numbing, even dehumanizing, factory work.

An assembly line worker, for example, does nothing by tighten the same bolts all day long. Economic History. The division of labor also known as specialization refers to a method of producing goods or providing services whereby a job is split into separate, distinct tasks or roles. Each task or role is then performed by one person or group of people; the person or group performs only that task or role, specializing in it.

If a group of one hundred people were to build a ship without dividing the labor into categories and specializing, they would all work together on the hull the frame of the ship , the decks, the sleeping quarters, and the sails. If this group were to divide the labor into categories and specialize, one group would build the hull, another the deck, another the sleeping quarters, and the final group would assemble the sails.

When the first group finished the hull, they would begin constructing a hull for a second ship. Over time these workers would master all aspects of building the hull, but they would not necessarily be adept at building decks, sleeping quarters, or sails. Workers often divide labor and specialize when they provide services, as well. One of the cleaners vacuums, another washes floors, another dusts, and another cleans bathrooms. Labor studies have shown that dividing labor and specializing significantly increases efficiency and production. With regard to shipbuilding, it has been shown that workers produce a greater number of ships and the ships are of a higher quality if the workers separate into teams and specialize in one aspect of the job.

Likewise, teams of housecleaners do better, faster work when individuals specialize in one aspect of the cleaning process. The division of labor also helps to ensure a high degree of standardization, or consistency, in the process of production and in the quality of the final product. In the case of the shipbuilders, if workers master a specialized role, then the ships are likely to resemble each other.

Standardization of products and services is crucial for large businesses looking to build a reputation for high-quality work with their client base. Sir William Petty —87 , an English economist and philosopher, was one of the first people to publicize the advantages of specialization. In the s, when he was in his twenties, Petty visited Dutch shipyards.

Most manufacturers during that era built ships one at a time, deploying a large group of men on one ship and not beginning another until the previous vessel was completed. The Dutch, however, constructed several ships at once. They assembled teams of workers and made each team responsible for a different area of the ship.

Petty noted that this approach produced ships more quickly; it also required less time and money to be spent on training the labor force. Instead of having to master all aspects of shipbuilding, a worker only had to know how to perform the tasks associated with his area of the ship. After his stay in the Netherlands, Petty returned to England and began a distinguished career as a surveyor and a writer on such subjects as mathematics, statistics, economics, and philosophy. By the s Petty had a wide readership, and at this time his early observations on the division of labor found a large audience.

Throughout the Industrial Revolution , which began in the s in England and spread to the rest of Europe and to the United States during the nineteenth century, manufacturers continually studied ways to get the highest level of productivity out of the labor force. Dividing workers into groups and making each group responsible for one part of a larger project did not become commonplace, however, until the beginning of the twentieth century, when the assembly line was first used in the American automotive industry.

Assembly lines in factories that produce large amounts of goods encourage a high degree of specialization. An assembly line is a manufacturing process in which the product being assembled moves on a conveyor belt past workers. As the product moves along the belt, workers add parts to it. For example, in an automobile manufacturing plant a car frame may be placed at the beginning of an assembly line and sent past the workers operating the line. As the car proceeds, workers along the line add parts to the car.

One group might put the engine in, the next the radiator, and another group further down might operate a device that places the windshield on the car. The car proceeds to the end of the line until it is fully assembled. Each group of workers specializes in performing one task associated with the building of the car. Although this approach to manufacturing produces a large number of identical vehicles in a short period of time, there are some drawbacks to the process.

The most notable shortcoming is a high degree of worker dissatisfaction. Workers on assembly lines often find the work boring and unchallenging, for example. Because they repeat the same task thousands of times a day and contribute only one small part to the manufacture of the vehicle, these workers often feel no connection to the process. Such workers are not as likely to take pride in the quality of the finished product because they regard their contribution as small and insignificant.

Their jobs, they reason, require no particular skill; any properly trained individual could perform the task. This attitude toward the job increases absenteeism frequent absences from work. Furthermore, workers trained to do only one aspect of a job have a limited amount of flexibility in the workplace. Their supervisors may deem them capable of performing only that one task. As a result the workers may have a hard time distinguishing themselves and moving to higher positions in the corporation. Another problem with dividing labor into small, particular tasks is that if there is a problem in one part of the process, the entire process stalls.

For instance, on an automobile assembly line, if the mechanisms responsible for placing the hood on the car break, the entire line may need to be shut down in order to fix the problem. This means that there will be a drastic reduction in output until the problem is fixed. Such breakdowns cost large corporations millions of dollars in lost revenues. Despite these problems the division of labor is considered a necessary component of economic progress. If a corporation wants to produce a high volume of goods or serve a large number of clients, that corporation must develop a highly specialized workforce.

Even within medium-sized firms the work staff is often divided into specialized groups. For example, in a technology firm of 30 people, workers will be responsible for distinct tasks that contribute to the success of the firm. The staff may include five or six salespeople whose job it is to recruit new clients. There may be two or three graphic designers who design websites, several programmers who write code, and a few individuals who provide technical support.

In addition, the firm may ask several employees to monitor internal affairs, such as cash flow and inventory. Within such a company it would be unproductive to require workers to excel in more than one area. Programmers, for example, need to keep up to date with the latest techniques in their field. If these workers were asked to master sales techniques and to do the accounting for the money coming into the firm, their programming skills would lag. It has become common for companies in many developed countries fully modernized countries with a large middle class and a skilled labor force to have their products made in factories located in poorer countries.

Nike sportswear, for example, is produced in factories in Vietnam, Taiwan, and the Dominican Republic , among other places. Companies like Nike produce their goods overseas because operating factories and paying workers is considerably less expensive in developing countries than in highly developed nations. Regulations in these developed countries set minimum standards for pay, safety in the workplace, and treatment of employees, especially those who perform specialized tasks on assembly lines.

Through a series of conventions throughout its history, the ILO has defined proper labor conditions for all workers. Specifically, child labor laws and prohibitions against the abuse of workers have been violated more frequently in factories in Central America and Southeast Asia. The FLA also establishes emergency funds to provide monetary relief for workers in need. According to some estimates, this meant a loss of more than 50, jobs. The FLA commissioned a legal report and sent financial aid to the workers.

The organization took similar action in December when the Hermosa Manufacturing plant in El Salvador was closed abruptly. The division of labor is a multifaceted concept that applies to several levels of analysis: small groups, families, households, formal organizations, societies, and even the entire "world system" Wallerstein Each level of analysis requires a slightly different focus; the division of labor may refer to the emergence of certain roles in groups, to the relative preponderance of industrial sectors primary, secondary, tertiary in an economy, to the distribution of societal roles by sex and age, or to variability among occupational groupings.

Sociologists at the micro-level are concerned with "who does what," while macrosociologists focus on the larger structural issues of societal functions. All of the major sociological theorists considered the division of labor to be a fundamental concept in understanding the development of modern society. The division of labor in society has been a focus of theoretical debate for more than a century, with some writers most concerned about hierarchical divisions, or the vertical dimension, and others emphasizing the heterogeneity or the horizontal dimension, of a social system.

The analysis here is primarily theoretical, and so does not deal with debates about the technical problems of measurement but see Baker ; Clemente ; Gibbs and Poston ; Land ; Rushing and Davies Most small groups exhibit "role differentiation," as first described by Simmel , Whyte , and Bales and Slater The research on informal work groups stresses a hierarchical form of the division of labor, or the emergence of leadership; in particular, the emergence of both a "task leader" and a "social leader. Even in same-sex groups, this structure of coleadership is apparent; also, the degree of role differentiation appears be greater in larger groups.

The functional need for a social leader depends in part on the degree to which group members are task oriented, and on the degree to which the task leader is perceived as a legitimate authority with the power to reward and punish other group members. Burke has also noted that a "scapegoat" role may emerge within task groups, reducing the need for a social leader to maintain harmony among the rest of the group members. When the family or household is the unit of analysis, issues concerning the division of tasks between spouses are of primary interest to sociologists.

One major finding has been the persistence of disproportionately high levels of traditional housework by the wife, even when she is employed outside the home. This reflects the "provider" vs. Another major family role, occupied almost exclusively by the wife, is that of "kinkeeper. The classic works by Bott and Blood and Wolfe documented the spousal division of labor as it was influenced by wider social networks and the relative power of the husband and wife.

Kamo has noted that cultural ideology is a strong factor in the determination of spousal roles, although it is not entirely independent of the resources available to husband and wife. Within a household, both age and sex structure the division of labor. Young children have few responsibilities, while parents have many, and males and females tend to do very different tasks. For example, White and Brinkerhoff studied the reported allocation of a variety of household tasks among a sample of Nebraska households, and found that the youngest cohort of children aged two to five performed relatively few household tasks and showed little differentiation by sex.

Older children, however, diverged considerably in their roles males doing more outdoor work, females more responsible for cooking or childcare. At the other end of the lifespan, the roles of the grandparent generation were strongly influenced by geographical proximity, the ages of the grandparents, and the ages of the children.

Divorce among the parental generation can also substantially impact the roles adopted by grandparents see Bengston and Robertson Formal organizations are always structured by an explicit division of labor an organization chart contains the names of functions, positions, or subunits. The horizontal differentiation in an organization, or task specialization, is normally based on functional units that are of roughly equivalent levels in the hierarchy of authority.

The division of labor may also be constructed on a geographical basis, with the extreme examples being transnational corporations that draw raw resources and labor from the developing nations, and management from the developed nations. Labor is also organized hierarchically, into levels of authority. Max Weber was one of the first sociologists to analyze the emergence of modern bureaucracies, where the division of labor is fundamental. Weber's approach suggests a maximum possible level of specialization, so that each position can be filled by individuals who are experts in a narrow area of activity.

An extreme form of the bureaucratic division of labor was advocated by Frederick Taylor's theory of "Scientific Management" By studying in minute detail the physical motions required to most efficiently operate any given piece of machinery, Taylor pioneered "time and motion studies. However, this form of the division of labor can lead to isolation and alienation among workers, and so more recent organizational strategies, in some industrial sectors, emphasize the "craft" approach, in which a team of workers participate more or less equally in many aspects of the production process see Blauner ; Hedley Macrosociologists measure the societal division of labor in a number of ways, most commonly by considering the number of different occupational categories that appear in census statistics or other official documents see Moore These lists are often implicitly or explicitly ranked, and so both horizontal and vertical division of labor can be analyzed.

This occupational heterogeneity is dependent in part on the official definitions, but researchers on occupational prestige the vertical dimension have shown comparable levels in industrialized societies such as the United States , Canada, England, Japan, Sweden, Germany, and France see Treiman The "world system" as described by Wallerstein is the upper limit of the analysis of the division of labor.

Entire societies are characterized as "core" or "periphery" in Wallerstein's analysis of the global implications of postindustrialism. Adam Smith , in The Wealth of Nations , produced the classic statement of the economic efficiencies of a complex division of labor. He observed that the manufacture of steel pins could be more than two hundred times more productive if each separate operation and there were more than a dozen were performed by a separate worker.

The emergence of the systematic and intentional division of labor probably goes back to prehistoric societies, and is certainly in evidence in the ancient civilizations of China, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The accumulation of an agricultural surplus and the establishment of markets both created and stimulated the differentiation of producers and consumers. Another phase in the transformation in Europe was the decline of the "craft guilds" that dominated from the twelfth to the sixteenth centuries.

For economic and political perspectives on the division of labor see Krause ; Putterman Early sociologists such as Herbert Spencer considered the growth of societies as the primary determinant of the increased specialization and routinization of work; they also emphasized the positive impacts of this process. Spencer, like other functionalists, viewed human society as an organic system that became increasingly differentiated as it grew in size, much as a fertilized egg develops complex structures as it develops into a full-fledged embryo.

In his Principles of Sociology , Spencer considered the evolution of human society as a process of increasing differentiation of structure and function. In fact, a specific question asking for details of the division of labor appeared on one of the earliest questionnaire surveys in sociology done by Marx in Marx and his followers called for a new form of the division of labor, supported by an equalitarian ethos, in which individuals would be free to choose their productive roles; labor would not be alienating because of the common ideology and sense of community.

Weber painted a darker picture when he documented the increasing "rationalization" of society, especially the ascendence of the bureaucratic division of labor with its coordinated system of roles, each highly specialized, with duties specified in writing and incumbents hired on the basis of their documented competence at specific tasks. The ideal-type bureaucracy was in actuality subject to the negative consequences of excessive specialization, however. Weber pointed out that the "iron cage" placed stifling limits on human freedom within the organization, and that decisions by bureaucrats often became so rule bound and inflexible that the clients were ill served.

Georg Simmel 's "differentiation and the principle of saving energy" [] is a little-known essay that similarly describes the inevitable problems that offset the efficiencies gained by the division of labor; he called these "friction, indirectness, and superfluous coordination. The former requires that the individual must be as specialized as possible, that some single task must absorb all his energies and that all his impulses, abilities and interests must be made compatible with this one task, because this specialization of the individual makes it both possible and necessary to the highest degree for him to be different from all other specialized individuals.

Thus the economic setup of society forces the individual for life into the most monotonous work, the most extreme specialization, because in this way he will acquire the skill which makes possible the desired quality and cheapness of the product. Statistics show that the female labor force is the most affected.

This decrease has had a disastrous impact on the quality of life of populations in general, and on disadvantaged communities, such as women, in particular. See Module 26 for more on this issue. Even in industrial countries, women are very poorly represented in scientific and technical study. Women who are not in paid employment are, of course, far from idle. Indeed, they tend to work much longer hours than men. The question of gender is normally ignored in the development of policies or programs for dealing with economic, social and cultural issues.

Experience teaches otherwise. Differentiation based on gender male-female forms the core of gender ideology. Biological differences are real e. On the basis of sex differences, a superordinate-subordinate hierarchy is established, through which males have access to land holdings, inheritance, skills, productive employment and the associated high status. Women, on the other hand, receive poor nutrition and medical care, and inferior education; they suffer violence and are even denied life female infanticide.

Tanning of animal hides is a major export earning industry in the State of Tamil Nadu, India. Tanning is listed as one of the most hazardous industries in the state's Factories Act; it is considered seven times more hazardous than the next industry on the list. Employment of children and women in this industry is banned. A study on the tanning industry in the state found, however, that a large number of women are employed in contravention of the law.

They are also involved in the most hazardous stage of production. Since their employment is illegal, it is hidden. They are never recorded as workers, so they have no rights or any form of protection under the existing industrial laws.

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Applying a gender perspective would change the manner in which we articulate ESC rights. The following are some examples:. From a gender perspective, the meaning of work would be changed to include unpaid work at home, on the family farm, and elsewhere, work that is currently not valued by society. Women are currently relegated to low-paid and low-skilled jobs; this needs to be rectified. Rights at work would include protection from sexual harassment in the work place, trade unions and labor organizations.

See Module 10 for more on the right to work and rights at work. See Module In a case involving inheritance rights, the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe issued a landmark decision in April , giving precedence to customary law over the Constitution. In this case, Venia Magaya, a year-old seamstress, sued her half brother for ownership of her deceased father's land after her brother evicted her from the home. Under the Zimbabwean constitution, Magaya had a right to the land. However, the court ruled unanimously that women should not be able to inherit land, " because of the consideration in the African society which, amongst other factors, was to the effect that women were not able to look after their original family of birth because of their commitment to the new family through marriage.

The court backed up its decision by referring to Section 23 of the constitution of Zimbabwe. This section recognizes exceptions to the general rule against discrimination when it involves adoption, marriage, divorce, burial, devolution of property on death or other matters of personal law and in applying African customary law. Essentially, by making this judgment, the Supreme Court elevated customary law beyond constitutional scrutiny.

The following passage provides a useful summary of key issues:. The heaviest burden of ill-health is borne by those who are most deprived, not just economically, but also in terms of capabilities, such as literacy levels and access to information. It therefore follows that gender is an important social determinant of health. Gender differences are observed in every stratum of society, and within every social group, across different castes, races, ethnic or religious groups.

The sexual division of labour within the household, and labour market segregation by sex into predominantly male and female jobs, expose men and women to varying health risks. For example, their responsibility for cooking exposes poor women and girls to smoke from cooking fuels. Differences in the way society values males and females, and accepted norms of male and female behaviour, influence the risk of developing specific health problems as well as health outcomes. Studies have indicated that son preference and the under-valuation of daughters skew the investment in feeding and in health care made for boys and girls.

This has potentially serious negative health consequences for girls, including avoidable mortality. Women may not recognise the symptoms of a health problem, not treat them as serious or warranting medical help, and more commonly, not perceive themselves as entitled to invest in their wellbeing. Research, policy and services aiming to improve the health status of a population will have to examine, understand and address these differences. Some of the major questions to be asked include.

Women have struggled in every historical epoch and in every part of the world for equal treatment. In the early part of this century, the right of women to receive an education, to obtain paid employment, to enter professions, to vote and to stand for elections were all highly contested issues.

However, women in many parts of the world still face multiple obstacles in enjoying these rights. Discrimination based on gender ideology and patriarchy was not initially considered as part of the human rights agenda. Excluding sex discrimination and violence against women from the human rights agenda also results from a failure to see the oppression of women as political.

Female subordination runs so deep that it is still viewed as inevitable or natural rather than as a politically constructed reality maintained by patriarchal interests, ideology, and institutions. The history of women's rights can in a brutal simplification be described as circular.

A very early period of sex equality seems to have been followed by a long period of retrogression, then by efforts to regain some of the lost equality. Descriptions of a general downward trend in societal recognition of women's equality hide their efforts to challenge inequality. Women martyrs are rarely known, but in every society, in every generation, there were women who led the way.

For example, Fatimih Umm Salamih lived in Persia in the nineteenth century. She was born in and became known as Tahirih The Pure One. She challenged the rules of the time, which relegated women to inferiority, and championed equality between men and women. She was murdered in and her body was thrown into a well which was then filled with stones. She was killed but not silenced; her last words were recorded: "You can kill me as soon as you like, but you cannot stop the emancipation of women. The Rice Riots in Japan were triggered off when women port workers refused to load rice and were joined by other workers; this led to a long struggle and a political crisis.

In China in many thousands of workers in 70 Shanghai silk factories went on strike, calling for increased wages and a ten hour working day; this was the first important strike by Chinese women workers. In India and Sri Lanka, in the years after World War I, women workers were active participants in militant industrial agitation and strikes. To give only one example from the region, the most militant activists of the Ceylon Labour Union, which led strikes in Sri Lanka in the s, were women factory workers in Colombo; they used to dress in red, were the most vociferous of the strikers and picketers, and formed a bodyguard for male trade union leaders during demonstrations.

In Iran, Egypt and Turkey women were to join with men in the formation of left-wing political groups and trade unions, in spite of repression and adverse conditions for mobilizing the people. In the so-called private arena, the equal treatment of women remains extremely controversial. See Module 9 for further discussion on this point. Many customary practices, traditions and religious beliefs relegate women to a secondary status and sometimes even deny adult women their legal majority.

In a world where conflicts based on differences and identities are rampant, the issue of cultural rights remains one of the most controversial and divisive. See Module 17 for a more in-depth discussion of cultural rights. The extreme extent to which culture and tradition can be used by those supporting patriarchical interests came to light in the State of Uttar Pradesh in India.

A women's group, Vanangana, rescued an year old girl who was being abused by her father. The organization helped the child and her mother seek protection and also took legal action against the father. The accused and his supporters in turn filed several false charges against, and published pamphlets attacking, the members of the women's organization. They charged that the organization was destroying the institution of the family and attacking Indian culture. The experiences of women all over the world point to the impossibility of their enjoying their ESC rights as a result of situations where their freedom and autonomy are constrained.

The handpump mechanics project in Banda in the State of Uttar Pradesh in India is an example of empowering women through ensuring access to ESC entitlements. It is one of the most backward districts in the State, known for its high degree of violence, including violence against women.

The project was responding to the problem of water scarcity in the region. It began with teaching non-literate rural women to learn the skills of repairing handpumps. Acquiring a technical skill in a traditionally male domain was both a psychological and social breakthrough. In becoming handpump mechanics, they had built confidence in their ability to learn, broken stereotypes, and entered into a spiral of learning. Of the 45 women mechanics, Sumitra 35 and Chamela 36 were probably the most technically competent. The derisive laughter, scepticism and even hostility they had first encountered from the community as they performed their new role, had grudgingly turned into respect.

They had gradually become trainers as well. Travelling to different parts of the country as trainers had given them a wider exposure than most women in their villages. These experiences were testimonies of changes in their lives.