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18 JANUARY 2015

Emile Durkheim: social explanations

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Barclay Johnson • collective consciousnessconsumerismdivision of labourEmile DurkheimFrederick Engelsglobalisation • Hans-Peter Muller • Imre Szeman • individualisminterdependence • Isabel Ortiz • James Henry • Karl Marxmacrosociology • Matthew Cummins • mechanical solidarity • modern organic solidarity • organic solidarity • Paul James • pre-modern mechanical solidarity • premodern • social explanations • social factssocial theoristsocial theorysociologist • solidarity • Tom Bottomore • Whitney Pope

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Simon Perkins
09 SEPTEMBER 2005

Industrialisation: Pin Making and the Division of Labour

"To take an example, therefore, from a very trifling manufacture but one in which the division of labour has been very often taken notice of, the trade of the pin–maker; a workman not educated to this business (which the division of labour has rendered a distinct trade), nor acquainted with the use of the machinery employed in it (to the invention of which the same division of labour has probably given occasion), could scarce, perhaps, with his utmost industry make one pin in a day, and certainly could not make twenty. But in the way in which this business is now carried on, not only the whole work is a peculiar trade, but it is divided into a number of branches, of which the greater part are likewise peculiar trades. 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 another; it is even a trade by itself to put them into 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. I have seen a small manufactory of this kind where ten men only were employed, and where some of them consequently performed two or three distinct operations. But though they were very poor, and therefore but indifferently accommodated with the necessary machinery, they could, when they exerted themselves, make among them about twelve pounds of pins in a day. There are in a pound upward of four thousand pins of a middling size. Those ten persons, therefore, could make among them upward of forty–eight thousand pins in a day. Each person, therefore, making a tenth part of forty–eight thousand pins, might be considered as making four thousand eight hundred pins in a day. But if they had all wrought separately and independently, and without any of them having been educated to this peculiar business, they certainly could not each of them have made twenty, perhaps not one pin in a day; that is, certainly not the two hundred and fortieth, perhaps not the four thousand eight hundredth part of what they are at present capable of performing, in consequence of proper division and combination of their different operations."

(Adam Smith, 1776)

Fig.1 Title: "Epinglier, Plate II (Pin Making)", Engraver: Defehrt, Designer: Goussier, Date: 1762, Medium: Original Engraving, Art of the Print (Defehrt – Diderot's Encyclopedie), [http://www.artoftheprint.com/artistpages/defehrt_epinglier_pl2.htm].

[Smith's theory of specialisation has come to dominate Western economic theory in the 200 years since it was first published.]

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TAGS

177618th centuryAdam Smithbusinessdivision of labourindustrialisationindustrymanufactories • manufacture • manufacturingmass productionpin • pin-maker • servile artsskillspecialisationtraditional process • workman
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