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Division of Labor

From small nomadic packs 

in the African wilderness . . .

. . . to megacities linked in

worldwide civilization

Wild to Civilized

The Industrial
Division of Labor

When the tasks involved in making a work object are divided among different workers. Workers do their partial, specialized task on many more products and lose the control they have when they make a whole product.

From small nomadic packs 

in the African wilderness . . .

. . . to megacities linked in

a global industrial civilization

From craft to industrial

The ancient world that ringed the Mediterranean Sea consisted of towns and small cities, each one surrounded by agricultural land worked by a large population of peasants who produced enough surplus food to feed themselves as well as the relatively small populations (compared to today) in the non-food-producing urban centers. The craft division of labor had developed at the same time as these ancient towns and cities. Out of a craft division of labor eventually came a new dominating form of the division of labor:  the industrial division of labor.


A trend towards an industrial division of labor developed in the cities around the Mediterranean, but only to a limited extent. In many cases, as we said in the previous chapter, ancient cities in the Western hemisphere actually declined rather than industrializing. They followed a trajectory back to earlier social and economic forms: agrarian villages and scattered small towns. Where the industrial division of labor truly took off was in Western Europe, from whence it spread to much of the rest of what became the “developed” world. Indeed, “developed” in this context always refers to an economy dominated by an industrial division of labor.


This division of labor was marked by larger towns and cities in which factories shaped the skyline, factories much larger than any craftsman’s workshop. In these factories, workers became even more specialized than craftsmen. The cobbler’s various tasks in making a pair of shoes were divided and parceled out to different workers. To give a greatly simplified example, one worker made the soles, another worker made the uppers, and a third worker sewed the uppers and the soles together to complete a pair of shoes. More accurately, industrial workers completed a whole batch of shoes, because each worker spent a shorter amount of time on each product but worked on a far greater number of products than a craftsman did. The baker’s tasks were similarly divided and parceled out. One worker ground the flour for a large batch of loaves, another worker assembled and mixed the ingredients for a whole batch of loaves, and a third worker baked the loaves in the oven to complete a whole batch of bread loaves. In other words, the workers performed just one of the several or many tasks involved in creating any particular work object. But each worker performed its specialized task on many more products than the craftsman did, and the output of factories was far greater than any single workshop could produce, even out of proportion to the number of workers involved. In essence, task specialization is usually more efficient, in some cases, much more efficient. In other words, seven bakers making bread as craftsmen might produce, let’s say, seven loaves of bread in a given amount of time. In that same amount of time, however, seven industrially organized workers, each worker doing one task on a large batch of bread at its different stages of manufacture, might produce, say, 15 or 20 or even more loaves. That was the clear advantage of an industrial division of labor. It was more “efficient.”


But there would also be costs: much-weakened relationships between workers and their family and between workers and other workers, low wages, poor working conditions in a factory, long working hours. As time went on, some of these costs would be addressed. It became clear that higher wages would put more money in the workers’ pockets, which would allow them to purchase more industrially manufactured products, creating a positively upward feedback loop. Fewer working hours per day would require workers to work a longer period of time before they would be able to purchase goods and to desire more objects for comfort in the home. But the weakened relationships? Well, nothing could be done about that.

Individualism and equality

(here or elsewhere – start of industrial DOL)


Begins in Renaissance, Luther and Protestant Reformation, the Enlightenment, the isolated individual moving freely through a crowd,


Whether individualism started industrialization or vice versa, we cannot say; all we know is that they happened nearly simultaneously.  


Equality goes hand in hand with individualism. Destroys, or aims to destroy, the ranking system of previous societies, but replaces it with a faceless central gov’t.

Task specialization

The decisive characteristic of the craft division of labor was product specialization. [[[ the longitudinal work process ]]]]] Each craftsman knew all the skills of his craft, which involved creating a whole product, of just one kind, from start to finish.  In contrast, the decisive characteristic of the industrial division of labor is task specialization, each worker performing just one step in the making of a product, but doing that step over and over again on many more products than a craftsman worked with. An assembly line of workers is an example of task specialization. But this type of specialization occurs everywhere throughout modern cities, so we are calling it more generally the industrial division of labor.


The industrial division of labor did not replace the craft division, just as the craft division did not replace the sexual division. Rather, each division of labor was added to the previous one. So the name we have given to each division of labor refers to the characteristic that is most dominant, but not exclusively dominant, during an era of human history.


[[[[[[  Industrialization got its first major stronghold in Western Europe beginning in the Middle Ages roughly around 1000 A.D., from whence it grew and spread throughout most of the world. ]]]]]   We look back at the Middle Ages as a very stable, unchanging society with everyone in an occupation for life, which is far from true in many ways. Warfare was an almost constant threat and reality, and changes were beginning in the few towns that existed. But most medieval villagers were closely attached to their extended family with its farming land, their village with its lord in a manor house, and the local parish of the Catholic Church. Almost all lived in these groups, usually for life. But as they began to move away from these villages, individuals slowly lost their powerful local attachments and began making contacts with the growing towns.


A new era developed. Individuals became aware of a wider world, which included the town itself where farmers marketed their grown foods, and the occasional merchants bringing unusual goods from faraway places. People began to rub against new ideas, like strange other people and places on earth, other religions, ancient philosophers, new kinds of art. People saw a new way of looking at themselves, as “individuals,” starting with the Renaissance, which championed “humanism,” and the Protestant Reformation, which championed the individuals direct relation to God. Both of these movements covered a span from about 1400 to 1700 A.D. [???] in Europe. Renaissance humanism turned the focus of attention away from the Church and religion towards man, towards human beings as the primary source of knowledge, towards nature and physical reality, and towards secular and scientific philosophies. In the Renaissance, perspective – how we actually see things near and far from our eyes – was first used in art and gave a more accurate depiction of reality. Pre-Christian Greek and Roman philosophers were rediscovered and honored. Thinkers of one sort or another began to turn towards observation of nature and inductive reasoning, which identifies an observed reality from which it induces or generates a broader, unobserved hypothesis or conclusion. Take this statement: All life forms that we know of depend on liquid water to exist, an observed fact. Conclusion: All life forms that we may ever encounter must depend on liquid water to exist, a likely probability, but not observed. Inductive reasoning was essentially the scientific method, and it first began with humanism in the Renaissance.


Deductive reasoning, on the other hand, starts with a general statement or axiom that is known or assumed to be true, and logically deduces a particular outcome. For example:  A: All men are mortal, an asserted true, though it might not be universally true. B:  Sophocles is a man, a known truth. C: Therefore, Sophocles is mortal, a logical conclusion from A and B. A more religious deduction would go like this:  A: God is eternal. B: Jesus is part of God. Therefore, C: Jesus is eternal. Deductive reasoning fits with Roman Catholic dogma through the centuries after Jesus, proclaimed by Church priests as “received truth” from God and Jesus, and being offered to Catholic believers as what they must believe in. Martin Luther, the Catholic priest who nailed 44 theses to a church door in ____________, and began the Protestant Reformation,


The pin factory


The famous early economist and philosopher Adam Smith, writing in  (YEAR??) near the start [??????] of industrialization, used the example of a pin factory to describe what was happening with industrialization:


"A workman not educated to this business … 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 straights 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 is another. It is even a trade by itself to put them into the 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 upwards of four thousand pins of a middling size. Those ten persons, therefore, could make among them upwards 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." (Punctuation modernized.)

                                                                        Adam Smith, (date)


[[[[ We will summarize this historical transition from a craft to an industrial division of labor. ]]]]   following goes somewhere else………….[[[[PUT IN MOVEMENT CHAPTER OR IN SEXUAL DIVISION OF LABOR OR SHARING? NO, KEEP IT HERE, AS THE POINT IS NEEDED HERE AND NEEDS TO BE REMEMBERED. ]]]]  


But we must remember that what we want to capture and account for are, above all, the observable changes in people’s movements, taking into account the fact that human movements are always restricted by time and space. One person cannot be in two places or in two time periods at once. If farmers move to the city, the countryside population inevitably shrinks while the urban population grows.


While great variety of movement is possible, movement cannot violate the temporal and spatial limitations within which it occurs. When we say, for example, that many nomadic packs turned into settled villages in a series of stages, each one of those stages, each slice in time must be internally consistent. A worker cannot work on a large batch of products and still do every step in the production of the product. To produce a large batch, the worker could do only one partial step in the production process, and only a group of differently skilled workers can as a production unit produce a large batch of completed products. A craft division of labor cannot be mixed with an industrial division of labor.]]]]]

[[[To be more specific and historical regarding the movements of individuals and in groups, the longstanding pattern of wandering continuously to various sites to hunt and gather gave way to the very beginnings of agriculture when a very modest step towards deliberate plant cultivation was taken. Perhaps this first step was something such as a digging stick being used to turn up the soil where seeds from native wheat plants had landed, which eventually produced a more plentiful stand of wheat that the nomadic wanderers could come back to and harvest, allowing them to spend a bit longer time in that one location. This stage was the very beginnings of a series of stages—improvements in agricultural techniques—leading to fully sedentary agriculture. Each successive stage after it would lead to a larger crop and a longer stay in one location—until, finally, a permanent, stationary village was achieved.

[[[All of these stages involved movement patterns that had to be consistent with the limitations of time and space. A settled village could not occur if the nomadic pack were still at the digging-stick stage and did not have an extensive area of land cultivated by human hands to produce a sufficient crop or crops to last the year round. Conversely, nomadic packs cannot wander continuously and at the same time stay in one location long enough to cultivate a year’s worth of crop yield. We make this point because historians and sociologists seldom take full account of the observable movements of humans in which all the actions and events of our history and our lives take place.]]]]]] not good here, goes too far back in history……….]]]

From feudalism to early industrialization 


Since Western Europe is where industrialization first develops most fully, then, we will leave behind the ancient cities and towns and bring ourselves to Western Europe in the Middle Ages, which lasted approximately from 500 until 1300 A.D. After the fall of Rome, what remained throughout Europe were farmers—peasants in agrarian villages scratching out a meager living from the soil—and warriors or “barbarians”—former hunters and gatherers invading from the north, the east, and the south. The situation was very similar to the period when agriculture first developed in the Middle East, when agrarian villages needed protection from raiding hunters and gatherers and acquired that protection from some of those hunters and gatherers who had transformed themselves into warriors, using their hunting tool as weapons and “gathering” their food from sedentary farming villages where they attacked and pillaged (and raped).


Similarly, a new economic arrangement emerged in Europe. Some of the “barbarian” warriors who raided the villages conquered them instead and remained in control, becoming feudal lords with vassals who provided military protection to the villagers. The lord would also adjudicate disputes among the peasantry in his court, the largest room in the lord’s house or castle. The peasants in turn were obligated to provide a portion of their crops as food to the warriors, or they were obligated to work in the lord’s gardens and fields for specified periods of time to produce the food the warriors ate. These obligations of the peasants to the lord were a form of tax on them, the kind of tax that occurs in a barter economy where goods and services are traded rather than money.

This barter economy based on near-subsistence agriculture was virtually all that existed for several centuries in the early period in Europe called the Dark Ages, roughly 500 to 1000 A.D. The agricultural techniques that the peasants used were quite primitive and produced very little surplus food, just enough to feed each peasant family and a lord with his vassals.


A lord was the ruling figure in a village or in several villages, and his vassals sword to allegiance to the lord of the manor, were the workers in the lord’s manor house or castle. His vassals were also lords of other villages they had conquered, with the help of the lord and all his vassals. The lord gifted the village to a vassal, who became the lord of that village with his own fellow warriors as his vassals. This lord was subordinate to the original lord, to whom the subordinate lord owed a tax (name??????), a quantity of produce or other goods made in his village. And the subordinate lord had warriors subordinate to him and pledged to support him, both in warfare and in “paying tribute” to him. Tribute was, literally, a payment or tax paid by a feudal vassal to his lord, who in exchange provided protection when needed to the vassal and the vassal’s villages. The lord also could rally all his vassals to attack and take command of other villages. So there was a hierarchy of obligation, going upward to the first lord, to join in battle as needed, usually in the non-productive period of the agricultural cycle. How interesting! Warfare was scheduled in the winter to avoid interfering with the much-needed food crops.


Warfare was common, and when new villages were conquered and the lord did not have the resources to administer them all, he gave them in trust to some of his vassals, who themselves became the lords of their own villages or groups of villages. The relations of lords and vassals formed a hierarchy of loyalty culminating in the highest lord, who became king over a whole region of villages and sublords.


Out of this feudal arrangement would grow Europe’s nobility. The relationships between lords and vassals, on the one hand, and peasants, on the other, would become increasingly exploitative. Wielding a monopoly on violence, lords and vassals aimed to maximize their wealth by extracting as much as they could from the peasantry. Extracting the wealth from conquered lords of other villages was another avenue they pursued. For a good long time at the start, however, when the peasants could grow scarcely more than enough for their own subsistence, lords, vassals, and peasants were almost equal in status and in living style—all very poor. [MOVE UP]


The peasants were very traditional and hidebound in their farming practices, but eventually and slowly, change would happen. Agricultural techniques slowly improved. Plows were harnessed to oxen and prepared the soil. Crop rotation was discovered as well as leaving some fields fallow for a period of time. Sheep and cattle were allowed to pasture in the fallow fields and drop their dung there. Gradually adopted, these techniques all improved the soil’s fertility and produced surplus crop yields—more food than the peasants needed to feed themselves and their local lord and vassals.


As happened in the ancient days preceding the rise of large cities, a growing surplus agriculture fed a growing population. That surplus allowed the additional population to spend part-time and eventually full-time in non-food-producing activities. The peasants themselves had long been able to set aside some time for tasks other than farming, such as spinning wool, weaving it, making clothes, making pottery, and making simple tools. All of these part-time tasks of the farmers were done originally to make products strictly for their own use. But very gradually, as agricultural techniques improved and agricultural output grew along with the population, products could be made for exchange, at first by barter and eventually for money. When this point was reached, farmers who produced products for exchange rather than use would specialize in what products they produced. Specializing would allow them to become more skilled and improve their one particular product. They could specialize because the other products they needed to survive could be acquired by exchange with other specialized farmers, each one producing one of those other products and doing a better job of it. Typical products were woolens, linen, furs, vegetables, animals, and tools.   


The place for this exchange to occur was typically near the lord’s house, which over time became a larger manor house and eventually a castle. The lord’s house or castle would be fortified with walls enclosing a large, open area for the farmers to gather for protection during an attack by barbarians or by some other feudal lord. That fortified area around the manor house or castle became a customary meeting place where exchange of products could also take place on market day. It was a very early form of a marketplace and not a permanent one at the start. At the start, market day occurred perhaps once a week and later took two or three days a week until it finally was daily and permanent—a typical progression as a town grew larger in population. An enormous fair or marketplace—the “mall” of the Middle Ages—also eventually developed once a year for a stretch of days or weeks in one big city only, rotating among the major European cities and attracting merchants from near and far away. As time went on, this fair, too, lasted longer and finally became permanent in each city and large town.


Metalworking was a technique that survived from ancient times, although it was more likely to be done by a full-time blacksmith, a metalworker who lived in or near the lord’s house and provided swords and other military equipment for the lord and the vassals. 


Trading in the markets and fairs, especially the longer and bigger ones, were merchant traders traveling long distances to bring rare luxury products from faraway places. These luxury products—silk, spices, trinkets, gold, silver, copper—were generally small in size to make them easy to carry over long distances. Eventually, trade in products large and small developed extensively when ships were first built for long-distance travel. Transport over rivers and seas was much easier than caravans of pack animals carrying limited loads over land. Vassals were used to protect pilgrims traveling long distance to holy places such as Jerusalem. In time, the vassals started carrying money—gold, silver, copper coins—on behalf of the wealthy. Out of this practice grew banking and international trade, and the vassals themselves became wealthy and turned into merchants.


More surplus agriculture and more population went hand in hand with a growing class of full-time specialists—the first craftsmen—who built their homes in and around the fortified manor house or castle. The craftsmen’s homes were also their shops, and signs picturing their products were hung to guide people to the product they wanted to buy. Such signage lives on today.



NEW START OF INDUSTRIAL DOL chapter-----------------------



Agriculture and the environment


Let us take a closer look at how agriculture alters the environmental space around a social unit, which in turn alters the movement patterns of people through their environment. Nature on its own tends to produce in any one location a diversity of resources potentially useful to humans—several varieties of plants, animals and minerals. In any one location, then, hunter-gatherers find only a short natural supply of wild foods, but in the immediate vicinity they also find the various other materials they require for fuel, shelter, clothing and other types of food—all in relatively short supply. Thus they must move on from one location to another to acquire a steady supply of the essentials of their simple life.


The effect of agriculture is to specialize the resources of the environment. In a certain amount of space, agriculture selectively proliferates just one resource—just one variety of plant, for example—and eliminates many or all of the other resources. When farmers clear and plant a field to wheat or barley, they hope to reap a longer supply of that one crop than they would find naturally in one place, but in the process of cultivation, they destroy even short supplies of any other resources there.


While farmers are able to remain at length in one location—for example, a field of grain—and satisfy one of their resource needs, they must at the same time move elsewhere to satisfy their other resource needs. If the rest of the environment stays naturally diversified, farmers would have to roam almost as far and wide as hunter-gatherers do to secure sufficient other resources. Conceivably, the farmers could roam in search of their other resources in the intervals when their fields do not require active attention. But combining roaming for some resources and returning repeatedly to the same location for other resources would not only demand greater energy and greater speed of movement, but would also leave their valuable fields untended, unguarded. Mixing nomadic and sedentary patterns of movement is possible only to limited degrees, in limited cases. Here again we have the phenomenon of the incompatibility of two different types of division or labor – or two different types of movement pattern – in the same location, in close proximity. The solution that is more economical with their time, space and energy is for farmers to consolidate long supplies of their other resources near their fields and to apply the same technological principle embodied in cultivation to the processing of their other resources as well.


It is not surprising, then, that the discovery of agriculture was followed by a series of additional technological innovations coming in rapid succession, giving farmers an ample supply of all the resources of their lives in one location. The principles of agriculture were applied, for example, to other plant foods, leading the early farmers to plant various fields of various drops. One drawback to this expansion of agricultural techniques was that early farmers tended to rely on a smaller range of plants than those they had gathered, robbing them of a full diet and leading to chronic, low-grade malnutrition. There were costs to innovation back then—and probably throughout history.


Herding, pottery and weaving are other technological innovations that were developed soon after plant cultivation. Techniques for making more specialized and durable tools were developed along with ways to build larger, more permanent dwellings. Soon the village settlement became an area divided into almost as many sub-regions as the farmers have distinct resource needs, each sub-region producing a large supply of one or a few resources.


The environmental space in and around the village becomes specialized roughly in a pattern of concentric circles. As Homans describes it in English Villagers of the 13th Century, the dwellings of the villagers are at the center, the vegetable gardens for each dwelling right nearby, and then cropland, the fields of grain called arable, surrounding the dwellings and gardens. [The tilled fields in the cropland alternate with fields left fallow to recover their fertility.] Beyond the cropland are the pastures for domesticated animals, and beyond them is forest where residual hunting and gathering of raw materials for fuel, building and other purposes takes place.  [A later development: Somewhere in the village would be a separate space for a mill shared by all for grinding grain and a separate space for an oven, also shared, for baking bread. In this and similar ways, the area taken up by agrarian villages for their survival needs becomes specialized.


The dwellings themselves undergo a similar specialization of space as the village slowly evolves. First, they are small huts with all activities taking place in one room. But as the huts get larger and of more durable construction (brick made of mud with a high clay content, for example), spaces in the home developed: rooms with more specialized uses, though not nearly as numerous or as specialized as the rooms in modern homes.


End chapter with historical growth of small cities from improvements in agriculture, as transition to craft division of labor in medieval cities.

Next: quantity produced is more


As the nomadic pack became increasingly stationary geographically and larger in population, the individuals within the collective unit began to move with increasing speed, circulating faster within their shrinking territory.


A revolution had occurred, ( but one that did not end. )

Transition to industrialization

The lord who built and kept on his personal land a brewery, a mill, a wine press, services of a bull or boar for stud purposes, supply of horses, an oven for baking bread [Bloch p. 251] created monopolies for which he could charge the peasants—a transverse division of labor.

Instead of exacting labor from the peasants, the lord eventually exacted fees and taxes [Bloch p. 253] which transformed the peasants into producers, economically autonomous. It eased the bond of domination (and being tied to the land) and set up the stage for free laborers.

The industrial division of labor

The significant feature of the industrial division of labor is the transverse division of the production process, in which the completion of any given product requires two, three, or many different persons who perform their respectively different tasks in succession on that same product. The long sequence of tasks that the craftsman had performed thus becomes separated into its constituent shorter tasks, and each more specialized task is given to a separate worker in the industrial division of labor. Compared to the craftsman, then, the industrial worker performs a relatively short task repeatedly on a relatively large number of work objects. Much greater standardization of the work objects and increasing mechanization and routinization of the work tasks are demanded by industrialization, for they allow the worker to move rapidly from one work object to the next and they allow the next worker in the production line to perform his short task without time-consuming adaptation to peculiarities in different work objects.


As soon as three different steps in a production process become separately performed, the same production process will include task-differentiated persons with no exchange contact. The persons performing the first and third steps must move into contact with the same work objects, and usually with the same geographical locations. Yet despite their necessarily close proximity and their economic interdependence, these workers have no exchange contact with each other and are separated by the workers performing the intervening task. Their work positions thus greatly reduce the possibility of personal relations. With industrialization, the number of these separately performed steps in a production process increases. And with each step, yet more task-differentiated persons are brought into close proximity who have highly impersonal relations with each other.


On the other hand, the shortening of each worker’s task would ordinarily increase the frequency of his exchange contact with the persons immediately preceding and following him in the production process. But the industrial division of labor is everywhere pervaded by asymmetrical ratios among adjacent workers. In other words, a large number of workers who all perform the same relatively short task in an industrial enterprise are typically preceded and followed by a smaller number of workers—often only one person: a manager, a foreman, an executive, but also other workers lower in rank and power. These solo individuals have a task that is extremely short so that it is performed on all the work objects produced by a large number of workers. As a result of the many workers exchanging their work objects with the one worker or with a few workers, the frequency of exchange contact between the same particular persons is reduced—in direct proportion to the asymmetry in numbers between the exchanging, task-differentiated workers. Impersonal relations again predominate.


As a result of mechanization and standardization, the work objects in an industrial division of labor become nearly identical to each other. What one worker produces becomes increasingly or impossibly difficult to distinguish from what another like-skilled worker produces. This “identicalness” of work objects, combined with the relatively short time that a worker is in contact with each work object, undermines the worker’s attachment to his work object. Consequently, whether by happenstance or by deliberate policy, like-skilled workers may come to be assigned in a random pattern to successive work objects. Unlike craftsmen who work continuously with the same work objects in the same locations, and so maintained fixed positions in relation to each other, industrial workers from time to time shift which objects they work on and which locations they work in, thereby producing a pattern of movement in which individuals shift almost randomly among each other. Since the same particular individuals do not remain adjacent to each other for very long, personal relations among like-skilled workers are thereby undercut.


In the craft division of labor, all the tasks of a single production process had been performed by a single craftsman. As a result of the transverse division of the production process which occurs with industrialization, however, many workers are coordinated into a single production process. By increasing the number of differentiated steps in the production process, by increasing the asymmetry in numbers of the exchanging, task-differentiated work groups, and by standardizing and randomizing the pattern of assignment of like-skilled workers to successive work objects, the industrial division of labor achieves highly impersonal relations within the production process at the very moment that more people are drawn into it.


Also occurring at the same time, the increasing numbers of workers drawn into a single production process vastly increases the number of work objects produced in a given period of time. Consequently, the number of consumers who converge at the terminal point of the production process to receive its expanded output is accordingly increased, producing still greater impersonalism between buyers and sellers than had occurred between each craftsman and his clientele.




Moreover, with industrialization comes increasing material wealth, which means a continuous increase in the absolute number of different kinds of products that are produced in an industrial society and that each individual or family in that society typically buys and uses. For each new kind of product there is a whole separate production process. To secure the increasing number of different products that he uses, each person must move into direct, or at least indirect, contact with the terminal points of the increasing number of different production processes. In terms of collective movement patterns, then, increasing industrialization entails larger numbers of consumers moving more rapidly into contact with a greater number of different locations, at each of which a larger number of workers produces increasing quantities of the one, yet more specialized product produced and distributed there.


New section


This brief sketch outlines the industrial division of labor and its typical movement patterns. Yet, although the industrial division of labor emerges as the dominant economic form in society only in the last three or four centuries of Western history, its basic feature—the transverse division of the production process—appeared as early as in the ancient civilizations, notably in the centrally administered irrigation systems by which specialized, surplus agricultures was undertaken in the Near East. So the story of the most centralized form of economic structure is a relatively long one of gradually increasing predominance in society, a story in which the already centralized craft division of labor is eventually surmounted by the still more centralized (ing?) industrial division of labor.


But when will the story of increasing centralization end? Theoretically, the limit to the most centralized pattern of collective movement is only the degree of greatest physical compaction that humans can achieve while they at the same time move at the greatest possible speed they can attain. Theoretically, the limit to the most centralized division of labor is only the ingenuity with which humans can devise yet more rapid techniques of producing yet more products, yet more efficient techniques for servicing yet more clients, yet more equalizing and homogenizing ways of assigning persons to yet more fractionary work places.


For very practical reasons, however, these theoretical limits will never be reached. The practical limits on centralization come for two directions: economic and social. A very substantial portion of the economy of any society involves the transformation of raw materials into usable goods and products. Those raw materials are drawn from the natural environment surrounding the society, from the geographical territory that the society occupies. As centralization progresses, the quantities of natural resources that are extracted from the environment and transformed in production increases proportionately. The increased demand for natural resources, in fact, leads to the expansion in size of the geographical territory off of which a centralizing society lives. But the territory of the earth is finite, and the natural resources of the earth are finite. And as the ultimately limited quantities of natural resources available on the earth are deplete, continuing centralization will end. In fact, the depletion of the resources means that smaller and then still smaller quantities become available, so that not only will centralization end, but decentralization will begin. For economic reasons. Decentralization would have to continue until the point is reached when an economy depends only on those kinds of resources that naturally replenish themselves and when the economy uses those resources at a rate that is slow enough so as not to overtake the pace of natural replenishment.


The social limit on centralization derives ultimately from the biology of the human organism. (footnote: That human sociability is ultimately tied to the biological cpacities of the organism is, in the author’s view, beyond question, since all reality—physical and spatial—is ultimately unified. The very important question is how sociability is tied to biology and physiology, a question treated in detail and in corss-species comparison in Monello, On Peace and Aggression in Social Life, 1973.This question is, of course, beyond the scope of the present work; only a brief statement of the general thrust of the answer is possible. ) Humans were evolved over millions of years to live in small, highly decentralized nomadic packs. This decentralized social form is the same form in which all of man’s primate relatives also live. The dense aggregations of centralized society have occurred only in the relatively brief period of human history that follows the discovery of agriculture some 10,000 years ago. And this period appears so abruptly in comparison with the slow pace of evolution that it would be impossible for the human organism to adapt biologically to the living conditions of centralization.


By taking the very probable assumption that centralization is an alien ecological niche for the human organism, a number of disparate facts fall into a coherent account. On the one hand, a host of facts suggest that the ever-present drive of humans is to maintain or return to decentralized social forms, to maintain or return to communal forms of living. The industrialization of Europe, for example, entailed the forcible overthrow of feudal society; the exponents of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution were even quite explicit in their view that the entrenched structure of feudal society required tremendous and deliberate energy to free individuals from it. And even today, the economic development of so-called “underdeveloped” societies is the story of slow and hard efforts to loosen people from their nearly intransigent bonds to traditional and communal forms of living. Centralization, in other words, is always accomplished only imperfectly against a strong human force toward decentralization.


On the other hand, many other factors suggest that, when humans do allow themselves to be caught up in the social vortex of centralization, they must endure considerable stress and strain. The suicide rate rises sharply. Both physical and psychological diseases appear which relate to the keyed-up, overstimulated, but sedentary way of civilized life. But perhaps most telling, in the present hour, is the reproductive impotence of highly civilized humans. The birth rate may rise during economic development, but when a highly “advanced” state is reached, the condition apparently militates against reproduction of the species. If such movements as women’s liberation, gay liberation, zero population growth, and so forth are indicative of increasing nonreproduction, then the social conditions of highly centralized life may well precipitate the human race into an era of population decline and decentralization.


Science fiction stories often portray the future of human society as a continuation of centralization to yet further extremes. But such a pattern of unilinear progress is not shared by many phenomena, whether physical or biological. Rather, most phenomena in the universe follow cyclical patterns of movement and development. Thus, the steady march of recent human history, which has brought man to his present state of centralization, may just as likely be followed by an equally steady march toward decentralization.


New section

Language: A division of labor itself

OR: The basis for many divisions of labor

Modern language: A Tower of Babel


Language, as we have said, is an invention, a tool to help in the division of labor that produces products we need or desire in our daily lives. All the vocabulary of the language involved in a specific division of labor relates to the elements of that division of labor: the names of the workers, the equipment and parts of the equipment involved in the work process, the steps in the work process and the rooms where these steps take place, the laws and regulations that apply to that particular work process, and so forth. Every division of labor in a given city, state, country, or in the world has such specialized languages. So also do regulatory powers, political parties, religions, etc. have their own languages.


We thus find ourselves surrounded by specialized languages the greater part of which we do not understand. In more topical concerns, as topics in the media, we have some vague understanding of what is being talked about, but we do not understand it like the insiders do, the news reporters and the media commentators as well as the experts they quote or bring in .




Bureaucracy has perhaps always existed, in the sense that a nomadic pack always had a primary leader, usually male, who made the decisions of where the group would go for its next feeding site, and a few other decisions, like joining up with one or more nomadic packs for jollity and to swap women/wives. Perhaps that leader had final say over what woman or wife of the other pack or packs could be adopted into the leader’s pack. These are non-food-related decisions outside the basic sexual division of labor regarding procurement of food: meat and vegetables and fruits.


In this sense............[MISSING???]

Bureaucracy, a white-collar factory


     An interesting question arises:  What is the relationship between a factory and a bureaucracy?

Answer:  They are both forms of the industrial division of labor. So, a factory is a blue-collar industrial division of labor. And a bureaucracy is a white-collar factory.

     The essential characteristic of the industrial division of labor is that the work process involved in producing one kind of product is divided into specialized tasks, each task performed by a different worker. Each specialized worker performs his or her task on a much larger quantity of work objects compared to the craftsman in a craft division of labor. A craftsman produces one whole specialized product from start to finish – cobbler, baker, blacksmith, etc. – but his output in number of products is much smaller.

     Adam Smith, the Scottish economist-philosopher who analyzed the industrial revolution near its start in his famous work “Wealth of Nations” (1776), expressed this essential characteristic in his description of how pins are manufactured in an industrial manner, his famous description of a pin factory [language updated in places]:

A workman not [specialized] 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 [pin-making] business is now carried on, [the making of a pin] is divided into a number of [tasks]. One man draws out the wire, another straights 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 [the head] on is [one worker’s task], to whiten the pins is another. It is even a [specialized task] by itself to put them into the paper. And the important business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations, … all performed by distinct hands [different workers]…. I have seen a small manufactory of this kind where ten men only were employed. But though [the workers] were very poor, …they could, when they exerted themselves, make among them about twelve pounds of pins in a day. There are in a pound upwards of four thousand pins of a middling size. Those ten persons, therefore, could make among them upwards of forty-eight thousand pins in a day.…But if they had all [worked] separately and independently, they certainly could not each of them have made twenty, perhaps not one pin in a day.

     So, the industrial division of labor – and factories – have these distinct features. The quantity of the product being manufactured in this way is huge compared to the output of a craftsman making the same product from start to finish. The workers do not need a long apprenticeship or extensive training. They can be unskilled laborers who are quickly taught only their one specialized task. The cost of labor, therefore, is greatly reduced. Even children can perform the work, as happened during early industrialization. As a result, the workers lose power. They are easily replaced. They do not control the whole product, only a small fraction of it. They do not control their workplace as a craftsman would. The workplace and the organization of work are the job of the factory owner.

     At the same time, with low labor costs and large output, the cost of the final product is substantially reduced. Multiplied by many new kinds of products becoming factory-made, industrialization ends up producing a huge quantity of different kinds of products at an affordable price for a burgeoning new population of middle-class consumers. Material wealth increases for large populations in cities, but as workers and as consumers, they are wholly at the mercy of the “system,” the complex organization of many factories, many raw materials suppliers, many transporters to many marketplaces, all beyond the control of every individual person in their postage-stamp position in society.

     Bureaucracies, as we said, are white-collar factories. The workers perform their specialized tasks usually in some kind of office, a space with desks as workstations, along with specialized equipment to assist with their work. Their product is often some kind of paperwork: a legal title, a permit, a receipt, a letter, a summary, an evaluation, etc. But the “product,” the work object, as we call it, can also be:  a patient receiving a physical exam, blood tests, and other tests prior to a prescription or other treatment;  an accused criminal being arrested, held in jail, taken to court, having an attorney who offers testimony by witnesses and legal arguments against a prosecutor’s claims;  or a research topic, which has to be formulated, operationalized into a specific study, carried out with researchable objects, the results counted and tabulated, analyzed, and summarized in a research report, and finally submitted to a scholarly journal for digital or print publication.

     The same characteristics of blue-collar factory work also apply to white-collar office work. A modest command of English and typing is a starting point of training. The actual work may require further training, but often the training is “on the job” and not intellectually complicated. So the wages are relatively low, as with many factory workers. Other white-collar work – teachers, doctors, lawyers, various administrators, etc. – requires considerably more training at the college or post-graduate level, which then commands a higher wage. Again, as with blue-collar workers, white-collar workers produce a relatively large quantity of output of specialized work objects (paperwork, treated patients, legal clients, etc.), which reduces the cost to consumers and supports a high level of consumption of white-collar “products” in an “advanced” industrial society. But control over working conditions for all white-collar workers remains virtually as limited as it is for blue-collar workers, and lack of control over the whole “system” in which the white-collar work is embedded is also largely beyond the control of white-collar workers.

     The current trend to escape from the office and find meaningful work or a meaningful lifestyle in another way is a trend that goes back at least to 1845 when Henry David Thoreau built his cabin on Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts, and lived there for two-plus years.

Questions or comments:

We have arrived at the point in the human history when small towns and larger towns based on the craft division of labor grow into large towns and small cities, and the industrial division of labor is starting to take off.


The unique characteristic of the industrial division of labor is the specialization of tasks. The tasks in making a pair of shoes are much the same whether they are all done by a single craftsman or they are separated into the different tasks and each task is taken up by a single worker or set of workers. Each worker then does just one small task, repetitively, on a large batch of work objects at one point along the various stages of manufacture. In the end, a large batch of shoes has been created or manufactured by a series of interconnected, specialized workers.


The earliest gatherers, the hunters and gatherers, and the early farmers were multi-skilled workers. Within each group of them, all the skills for survival were contained.  Craftsmen, in contrast, are specialized from other craftsmen and from farmers by manufacturing one kind of product from beginning to end: shoes, coats, hats, blankets, tools, ceramics, baskets, etc. ….

The putting-out system



Also: workshop system, domestic system, cottage industry.

Suited to pre-urban times because workers did not have to travel. Also, workers had to do agricultural work as well, tying them to the land. Wikipedia: putting-out system.

Types of work: sewing, lace-making, wall hangings, household manufacturing (?).

International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (online): putting-out system.

Workers in homes owned their own tools (gave them more power and control) but got raw materials from merchant capitalists. Semi-finished products would be passed on by the merchant to another workplace for further processing. Finished products would be taken directly to market. Typical commodity: cloth, but also ironware. Adults could supervise children in the putting-out work. Rise and consolidation of the nuclear family.

In time, it became clear to the merchants that a greater degree of supervision to maximize output (productivity) and control “embezzlers” of raw materials or finished products. Leading to rise of factory system. Removing workers to a common workplace gave merchant capitalists more control. They became industrial capitalists. Capitalists pushed for factories, but workers resisted (Marxist interpretation, not necessarily fact). (We don’t have to speak of forces or causality, just what happened.)


OMIT At the start, when they were not defending their village or conquering new villages, they assisted in the household of the lord, taking roles that would centuries later go to servants:  taking care of the horses and other livestock, a steward who supervised household affairs, a chamberlain to take care of the lord in his private chamber, master of the lord’s wardrobe, a marshal to oversee care of the stables and horses. Often these vassals were assisted by valets of various sorts, who were the sons of other lords.



Some vassals performed military duties only. Other vassals would do both military duties as needed and household duties that eventually went to servants.


Lords and vassals. Conquer other villages, give to vassals


Enclosure. Notes from internet readings.

Village farmers used three-crop rotation:  grain, peas (?) and fallow (used as pasture). Enclosure forced village farmers to give up their land, making them landless and available for farming on large enclosed estates as landless agricultural laborers or for factories in the city as wage laborers. Ag. had to be improving because the population in the towns and cities was growing, faster than rural, but rural was increasing slowly. Former farmers became “free” labor in Marxian sense. Farmers on enclosed land were either large landlords with landless ag laborers or small farmers who were tenant farmers renting for a lord and using family labor.  The enclosure movement was met with resistance and riots at times. They lost their traditional ways. Landlords justified enclosure as “improving” farm  practices and characterized the traditional farmers as “poor”, living in poverty, and their circumstances would be improved by enclosure. Depends on political point of view.

Took land by agreement or by force. Sometimes a very small piece of land was left to the “raped” farmer.


These industrial workers doing one step in making one kind of product do their work in large factories of one sort or another. A slaughterhouse is where animals are killed and skinned. A tannery is where the hides are prepared and polished. Cutting the leather, sewing the shoe parts and assembling them may take place in separate specialized factories or in one large factory with separate work areas for each task. Machines are usually used at each step of production. The workers’ jobs are to manage the machines, not to directly manipulate the shoe parts with their hands as craftsmen did. All the modern shoemaking workers perform their respective specialized tasks on perhaps hundreds of pairs of shoes in the course of a day, and altogether these workers produce a very large volume of finished pairs of shoes in a short amount of time.


PUT IN A BOX: The Pin Factory, a classic reference to the transverse division of labor by Adam Smith (years), the original theorist on how a capitalist market economy works.


The Pin Factory

A workman not educated to this business … 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 straights 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 is another. It is even a trade by itself to put them into the 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 upwards of four thousand pins of a middling size. Those ten persons, therefore, could make among them upwards 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. (Punctuation modernized.)  QUOTE SOURCE


Task specialization  PUT AFTER???


To fully understand the craft division of labor, we need to contrast it to the industrial division of labor, which we will discuss briefly here and in detail in Chapter ______.


The craft division of labor, as we have pointed out, entails a long, start-to-finish work process that each craftsman performed on his own unique type of work products. If we look at all the craftsmen producing one kind of product, they performed the same tasks on different work objects, and each craftsman had nothing to do with the work process or work objects of other like-skilled craftsmen. Thus, the craft division of labor can be described as product specialization and as a longitudinal or lengthwise division of labor. Longitudinal refers to the relatively long work process that occurs when each worker or craftsman specializes by product and performs all the tasks in making one type of product. We could also describe this work process as a lengthwise division of labor.


A worker’s relationship to his work objects, however, can be divided in a transverse rather than a longitudinal way. In a transverse division of labor, the various different steps in producing just one kind of product are divided among several skill-differentiated workers, each worker performing a different task, one worker after the other, on the same work objects. For example, one worker shears the sheep to produce wool, another worker spins the wool into thread, still another worker weaves the thread into cloth, and then another set of workers takes the cloth, one worker cutting it, another worker sewing some parts of a garment together while still another worker sewed other parts of the garment together, and still more workers sewed all the pieces into a whole garment ready to be sold to consumers. This allocation of different workers to different tasks on the same products is task specialization or a transverse division of labor. The word transverse means “to cut across.” It refers to the fact that each person’s specialized skill or task “cuts across” the work objects. Each worker works on a number of identical work objects but completes only one partial step on each one. A transverse division of labor can be described as task specialization or as an industrial division of labor.





To illustrate the basic difference between the craft and industrial divisions of labor, between longitudinal and transverse divisions of labor, between product specialization and task specialization—all interchangeable terms—let us take an example using three workers. Let us say that a work object takes three steps to produce it. First, we make each worker perform all three different tasks in order to complete one product, one work object. Thus, all three of them are working on different specific objects, and none of them is doing anything on the other two worker’s objects. In the end there are three completed work objects, each one fabricated entirely by one worker, with no exchange of products among the workers. This work process involves product specialization or a longitudinal division of labor. Each worker goes the entire length of the work process. These workers are like-skilled in relation to each other. These characteristics predominate in a craft division of labor.


In contrast, let us say we make each worker perform just one of the three tasks and have each worker work on all three products for the same amount of time as the craft worker described just above. The first worker does the first task on all three products, the second worker does the second task on all three products, and the third worker does the third task on all three products. In the end are three completed work objects. But now the workers do not go the length of the work process. Rather, each worker performs just one task, one third of the whole work process, and then passes the work object along to the next worker in the work process. Each worker ends up working on all three objects, not just one, and exchange or “passing-along” of the work objects from one specialized worker to the next is required. The work of each worker now cuts across the work process. These workers are skill-differentiated in relation to each other. This kind of work process involves task specialization or a transverse division of labor. Transverse means “cutting across.” These characteristics predominate in an industrial division of labor. GET IN ABOUT WORKING THE SAME AMOUNT OF TIME AND THE GREATER NUMBER OF PRODUCTS THE INDUSTRIAL WORKERS WORK ON.


The words “longitudinal” and “transverse” may be difficult to remember, but what is important is to know the two different ways of dividing the work process.



Longitudinal versus transverse: two ways of dividing labor




We characterize this intermediate period of urban development as having a craft division of labor. Its distinctive feature was that the craftsman, whatever his specialization, made a whole, particular type of product from beginning to end. A craft consisted of a long sequence of skills and techniques necessary to produce just one kind of product, from gathering the raw materials to selling the finished product. It might have taken days or weeks or months for a craftsman to produce one specialized product. The division of labor was thus longitudinal in the craftsman’s relationship to his work objects. 


A division of labor can be divided another way. A worker’s relationship to his work objects can be divided transversely rather than longitudinally. In a transverse division of labor, the various different steps in producing one kind of product are divided among several different persons, each person performing a different task on the same work objects. Transverse means “cut across.” It refers to the fact that each person’s differentiated skills “cut across” a number of work objects and only partially complete any one of them. A transverse division of labor dominates in an industrial economy.


In the craft division of labor, however, each person performs all the steps necessary to produce each complete product. And if several persons produced the same kind of product, they were like-skilled and performed the same series of tasks on different specific work objects. Their division of labor is longitudinal, referring to the fact that each person’s skills ran the entire length of the production process, while skill-differentiated persons worked on different objects.


The craft division of labor occurred as a dominant form in society when agriculture reached the historical point of producing enough surplus food to support a variety of full-time craftsmen in a town or small city. The ancient city states of Mesopotamia, a region around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers now comprising much of modern-day Iraq, were one of the first manifestations of the craft division of labor. But Europe in the High Middle Ages, roughly 1000 to 1300 A.D., was another high point when the craft division of labor was fully embraced by guilds of workers. Guilds were, like labor unions, associations of like-skilled workers all producing a particular kind of product: the cobblers guild, the tailors guild, the bakers guild, etc.


The terms longitudinal and transverse come from Max Weber, who asserts that the medieval craft guilds maintained the position that the raw materials must take the longest possible course in the individual shop, that the individual workman must keep the object worked upon in hand as long as possible. Hence it was required that the division of labor should be based on the final product and not on technical specialization of operations. In the clothing industry, for example, the course of production from flax to the finished garment was not cut transversely into separate individual processes of spinning, weaving, dyeing, finishing, etc., but as far as possible the guilds insisted that specialization relate to final products; one worker must produce hose, another vests.[1]


[PUT TOWARDS THE END, PERHAPS ALSO WITH LONGITUDINAL AND TRANSVERSE]  The last remaining step in the evolution of the division of labor among humans is industrialization and the now-very-pervasive industrial division of labor. No further divisions of labor, different in how labor is divided, can conceivably occur. The basic types have been realized: sexual, craft, and industrial. No further development in the type of division of labor is possible. But the industrial division of labor can be developed in terms of degree of industrial specialization, speed of work, often assisted by machinery, computers, and robots, and amount of international coordination such as we have seen over the past 200 years and longer ago.


The ultra-futuristic cities of science fiction – with vehicles whizzing through the air amidst giant towers of construction amassed into one giant mega-tower-city set upon a desolate landscape – such cities might eventually come about to whatever degree. But this futuristic city will nevertheless be based on the industrial division of labor, because all cities past, present, and future depend, and will depend, on forms and variations of the industrial division of labor as the dominant form.

Transverse and longitudinal divisions of labor


To understand why no other kind of division of labor can occur, let’s take a brave step into explaining the two, and the only two, basic ways that labor can be divided. This discussion gets a bit technical, but is brief.


One fundamental way of dividing labor: transverse  Worker No. 1 does a specific task or set of tasks—say, getting an appropriate piece of wood and carving a knife handle out of it—on a specific product and then passes that incomplete product on by hand or by machine to Worker No. 2, who performs a different task or set of tasks—say, making the knife blade and fixing it to the handle—on the same product—resulting in a completed work object—the knife.


The passing-along of incomplete work objects from one worker with one set of skills to another worker with a different set of skills is the hallmark of a fundamental type of division of labor, called a transverse division of labor, which means “cutting across” the work process. It actually occurs in all divisions of labor. The tasks in making a product are “cut apart,” and each of the tasks or sets of tasks are performed by different workers. Because work objects are passed along, these workers need to be in a physically close position to each other, or at least connected to each other by some technology of transport, from a conveyor belt to a trans-oceanic cargo ship to a computer internet connection. Because the two parts of the work object—the knife handle and the knife blade—must fit together, some manner of coordination has to take place to ensure that the two parts fit together properly. A transverse division of labor is a truly cooperative act – until the workers end up in an industrial division of labor with each worker doing the same, uniform, highly specialized task on many different pieces of the same kind of product...

The sexual division of labor in a hunting-and-gathering economy, however, usually involves the women gathering vegetables and fruits, perhaps processing those items to some extent, and then passing them on to their children and to the men. Meanwhile, the men usually go hunting, capture an animal, skin it and divide it (sometimes) among the men in the hunting band. At the campsite, the men pass some of the meat to the women in different patterns of transfer according to the local group’s customs.


In a craft division of labor, no passing-along of work objects occurs between craftsmen of the same kind of product. Each worker creates one kind of product from start to finish. But when it comes to each product-specialized craftsman getting the other products of other craftsmen, an exchange of products for products or products for money must occur in a market, a gathering place for all craftsmen and/or their wives and other family members. In the market, work objects are passed along to other people in exchange for a product of a different kind – barter – or in exchange for money, the universal product. This marketplace activity is a transverse division of labor, and as happens with all transverse events, it has a strong cooperative element to it. The product that a craftsman makes must be made to appeal to the needs of the customer who barters for it or buys it. And that customer’s own products as a craftsman must similarly appeal to others and be useful to them. To make the passing-along occur, craftsman and craftsman must be able to meet each other at an agreed-upon time. Thus, markets in early towns and small cities had designated operating days of the week and operating times, perhaps signaled by church bells or town crier calls, and craftsmen shops and open hours for trade. And the market and sales occurring in workshops facilitate the close contact needed for a transverse passing-along of work objects. This cooperation is not as carefully tied to specific persons as it is in a sexual division of labor, but it still remains a form of cooperation. Thus, a tranverse division of labor, with passing-along of work objects, occurs in the earliest sexual division of labor, the craft division of labor, and, as we shall see, in the industrial division of labor.  


The other fundamental way of dividing labor: longitudinal   An alternative way to divide labor is when two or more workers do the same specific task or set of tasks on different products of the same kind, and no passing-along of the work objects occurs between them. For example, each worker could make the same hypothetical knife from start to finish—getting the wood, carving it into a handle, making the blade, and fixing it to the handle—resulting in a completed work object. Since these workers do not pass work objects from one to the other in the manufacturing process, they do not have to be physically close to each other. They can sit next to each other in a factory or workshop setting with no required interaction between them. Or they can be located in different tribes or on different continents far apart, with no contact or exchange between them. This arrangement of work is called a longitudinal division of labor, which means “lengthwise.” All the tasks, or a set of tasks, that occur successively, one after the other, when making part of a work object or a complete work object, or just part of a work object, are performed by the same worker rather than being “cut across” and performed by different workers. And the two work objects can be made quite differently from each other and still remain knives. The longitudinal division of labor allows, but does not require, variation in the product with no coordination between workers and no required closeness. The transverse division of labor requires coordination and physical closeness between workers.


Transverse and longitudinal are useful concepts that help us analyze divisions of labor. Both occur in all three types of division of labor. In the sexual division of labor, men and women relate transversely, passing along work objects in both directions, men to women, women to men. At the same time, men are longitudinally related to each other. They have the same skills, primarily in hunting. They can hunt together in close proximity or far apart as solitary individuals. Each man’s hunting techniques and preferred prey can be different if hunting solitarily.


In the craft division of labor, the craftsmen who make one kind of product and join a guild of other like-skilled craftsmen relate longitudinally to each other. They work in their separate workshops, and their work does not require them to be in contact with each other, even if they all choose to live in their own section of a town or city. Their work objects can vary, even if the guilds impose rules to standardize the work objects within a group of like-skilled workers to cut down on competition between them. Work objects made in one town or city, however, can be quite different from the same kind of work objects made in another city or town. When it comes to the industrial division of labor, longitudinal and transverse patterns occur throughout a city or state or nation, interweaving with each other in many different combinations and permutations, determining who must be close to each other (transverse) and who have no work basis for being in close contact (longitudinal). The whole of the industrial division of labor, tying together the far corners of the world, is so complex that it is hard to conceive or grasp how the whole actually works. What we can do is analyze the basic ways that the industrial division of labor works.


​In prehistoric nomadic packs and early villages, the sexual division of labor was paramount and was later succeeded by the craft division of labor in the ancient and medieval towns or small cities. The sexual division of labor in these towns or cities did not vanish. Far from it. The craft division of labor was simply added on top of it. All the craftsmen were men who specialized in producing one kind of product. The women remained in the home doing mostly the same domestic activities they had done before. The men were clearly differentiated from the women, and exchange between them remained. The craftsman brought in the proceeds of sales of his product—either money or bartered products—a substantial part of which he gave to the woman.


It should not be surprising that in an economy with a purely sexual division of labor, men and women were relatively equal to each other. With the craft division of labor, however, this equality is superceded by male dominance, leading to patriarchal authority and patrilineal inheritance.


​CHAPTER STARTS HERE………………………………..



At this point in our journey towards modern industrial civilization, we have traced the movement patterns associated with the sexual and craft divisions of labor. We must pause a moment to point out that these two divisions of labor illustrate two fundamentally basic features of any division of labor. The sexual division of labor illustrates what a great, early-19th-century sociologist, Max Weber, called a transverse division of labor. “Transverse” means, literally, “to turn across.” In the context of a sexual division of labor, transverse refers to the exchange or passing of work products between men and women. A movable work product actually moves from one person to another, or if the work object is stationary, one person moves away as another person moves towards the work object.

The craft division of labor, however, embodies a different feature of a division of labor. Weber applied the term longitudinal to the craft division of labor, referring to the length or long-ness of the work process. As we saw, the guilds of craftsmen in the Middle Ages wanted the work object to take the longest path possible in the hands of one worker. Longitudinal refers not to the passing of a work object from one person to another, but to the length of time that the work object actually stays with one worker after it is passed to that worker and before it is passed on to another worker. When two persons perform the same set of tasks on different work objects – say, two cobblers working on different pairs of shoes or two truck drivers delivering different batches of goods – there is no exchange or passing of work objects between these like-skilled workers. We may say that their work processes run parallel to each other, to indicate lines (of work) that do not meet or cross each other. The word longitudinal has a flaw in its meaning. It suggests a long work process, as was indeed true in the Middle Ages. As we shall see, however, in an industrial division of labor, work processes, the tasks that each individual performs, can be quite short and specialized. Instead of manufacturing the whole work object, as medieval craftsmen did, factory and bureaucratic workers typically perform very short tasks in the making of a single work object.

Thus, we may say that every division of labor is composed of two and only two kinds of relationships between workers: transverse and parallel (or longitudinal).


​We have been tracing the development of divisions of labor in human history along with their movement patterns and social relationships. We began with the sexual division of labor that dominated among nomadic packs of hunters and gatherers over millions of years. A sexual division of labor continued to dominate among the first agrarian villages that developed along with the agricultural revolution around 10,000 years ago. Then arose the craft division of labor, which dominated among the earliest towns and small cities in the Middle East starting around 7,000 years ago when modest improvements in agricultural technology and output allowed the population to grow further. Just as hunter-gatherers emigrated from Africa and occupied Europe and Asia as far east as China, so also did agrarian villages crop up in Europe and Asia in response, possibly responding to population pressure.


​We now trace the next step in human history by looking at Western Europe starting in the Middle Ages, only because that next step—the industrial division of labor—was taken first and foremost in Western Europe, from whence it spread worldwide. We are mindful, however, that a transition in the Mediterranean and Middle East did take place as towns and small cities dominated by the craft division of labor developed into larger cities with elements of an industrial division of labor in the period from 3,000 BC to 500 AD as well as in China from _______ to ___________ [????????????] These early manifestations of the industrial division of labor occurred in the very first city-states and empires—in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, and Rome as well as in China—but these societies stopped developing and eventually died out or declined and regressed without going on to full-scale industrialization. That stopping point did not happen in Western Europe.

When the first towns and cities arose in the Middle East, Europe was a backland still occupied by hunters and gatherers. As agrarian villages appeared in Europe, they clashed with the native or invading hunter-gatherers, primarily Vikings from the north. Here is another example of the incompatibility of less centralized and more centralized social patterns in close proximity to each other.  [STATE THIS EARLIER AS WELL AS HERE] Instead of plundering and decimating the agrarian villages, however, some of these raiding warriors claimed the villagers and their farmlands as their own, becoming lords with serfs. These lords and their retinues of supporting warriors were, in essence, the first occupational specialists performing full-time specialized skills. Lords and warriors fended off aggressors from outside the village, managed internal affairs of the village, and conquered more nearby villages. In this new arrangement we have feudalism, a fairly stable social form intermediate between agrarian villages and fully developed towns and small cities. It dominated in Western Europe for centuries, from about 700 AD until roughly 1300 AD—the so-called Dark Ages and the Middle Ages.

A common feature of feudalism was the first signs of towns or proto-towns, little more than villages—a castle with fortified walls surrounding it, containing the house of the lord, fellow warriors, and house servants (often young men being trained for higher-status positions including aristocrat) and servants tending the immediate area around the castle, which included the stables, pigsties, and other animal quarters, and gardens (?), and beyond the castle walls, fields of crops maintained by the farmers, who were required to allot time working in the lord’s fields. [and the homes of a few craftsmen and their families.]  All the farmers in the countryside around the fortified walls supplied a portion of their crop yield to the people inside the walls and could, in times of attack, gather for safety inside those walls along with their animals. The first proto-townspeople were the craftsmen in this feudal form. They supplied products and services to the lord and his retinue of warriors as well as to other townspeople and to the farmers.


Along with the warriors, these craftsmen were also the first occupational specialists. They included a miller who tended a mill run by a water wheel that ground grain into flour for the farmers and townspeople, a baker to bake bread and other goods, etc. NEED MORE EXAMPLES SEE SANDERSON IN SOCIAL TRANSFORMATIONS


Various specialized roles grew out of the lord’s household, starting very simply with fellow warriors who, besides their critical role defending the manor, helped part-time with household tasks: tending the horses, ANY MORE??? . Eventually, these roles grew into full-time occupations: a steward overseeing all domestic affairs, one or more cooks to supply food to the lord and his warriors, a chamberlain tending to the personal care of the lord, a master of the wardrobe tending to the lord’s clothing, a so-called “pantler” tending to the pantry wherein bread, cheese, and table linen were kept, a butler tending the buttery wherein liquor was kept. Outside the lord’s house, but only as an extension of it, was a marshal tending the horses, critical for military defense, and supervising other servants with other animals kept by the lord.


Medieval household: attendants to lady of the house and daughters, steward over all domestic affairs of the house, chamberlain to the personal care of the lord in his chamber or bedroom, master of the wardrobe tending to the lord’s clothing. Also inside the castle were the kitchen for the preparation of food by cooks for the entire household, the pantry for bread, cheese, and napery (table linen, from which we get the word napkin), the buttery for wine, ale, and beer, tended by a butler. Outside of the castle itself, but within the fortified walls, were the work areas of the marshal, who tended to the horses, critical to defending the village, and other servants tending the horses as well as other animals. Many of these medieval terms for specialized roles survive today but with altered meanings and they also survive as the last names of many people of Anglo-Saxon origin: Smith, Butler, Tailor, Chamberlain, Marshal, Cook, and more, the vestiges of a time when the names of people in these tiny communities were simply first names followed by a person’s occupation: John the Smith, Robert the Cook, and so forth. REPETITIVE OF PREVIOUS PARA


The household developed in stages of progressively more occupational specialization. First, the warriors performed a variety of household tasks in and around the household. Then full-time servants took over those tasks, at first performing several of them. Later the servants specialized in just one task, such as tending the pantry or buttery. At first, the farmers engaged part-time in some crafts, such as pottery or weaving, bringing the goods to the castle to trade with others. Then more specialized …


An area inside the fortified walls became, in effect, the first marketplace for the exchange of products, by barter at first, later by gold, silver, or copper, and still later by paper money—each one of these exchange forms corresponding to the size of the community and the stage of the division of labor, from small to medium to large social forms, from sexual to craft to industrial divisions of labor.


The medieval household expanded, with the fortified walls including the cottages of the first craftsmen…. NOT HERE ???


First steps to industrialization

Perhaps not surprisingly, an industrial division of labor showed up in these early proto-towns. The decisive characteristic of the craft division of labor was a [[[the longitudinal or lengthwise]]]]]]] work process based on one person fabricating a whole product. We call it product specialization, in which each worker crafts one specialized product from start to finish (or for as long as possible). In contrast, the decisive characteristic of the industrial division of labor is that each worker performs just one step in the making of a whole product. [[[[We call it a transverse or crosswise division of the work process.]]]]  Since the making of most products consists of several or even many tasks performed in sequence, an industrial division of labor involves task specialization. The craftsman does all (or most) of the various tasks involved in making a product, but he or she makes only a limited number of products in a day or week. The industrial factory worker, in contrast, performs his or her one task on many, many products in the course of a day or week. The craft division of labor allows a considerable amount of variation from one work object to the next and a greater deal of worker satisfaction. The industrial division of labor requires considerable uniformity in the work object while the worker’s daily experience is boredom.


Longitudinal and transverse


The principle of a transverse division of labor, in fact, showed up at a very early time—in the sexual division of labor. As we explained, men had one set of skills and women had another set of skills. Between the sexes, the men and women are not like-skilled as the various kinds of craftsmen are to each other. They are skill-differentiated. And most critically, the products that each sex works on pass from a man to a woman or from a woman to a man. That exchange brings the men and women into direct contact with each other, a movement pattern that, as we saw, forms the basis for a personal bond of friendship—but only when it is repeated many, many times. The sexual division of labor would not be called an industrial division of labor, but both of these divisions of labor do share the same pattern—an exchange of products between skill-differentiated individuals. That exchange is the critical event to look for in a [transverse] or industrial division of labor.



The putting-out system          




We can see more clearly what task specialization does if we trace history in the transition from a craft to an industrial division of labor in Western Europe from __________ to ___________A.D. The craftsman’s workshop was the essence of the craft division of labor: a specialized space, separate from the family living quarters but often attached to it, in which the worker owned the hand tools he used in making one product from beginning to end. A major transitional form of the division of labor was the putting-out system, which lasted from _________ to __________. Merchants, who were originally just traders, brought raw materials like wool to one worker’s shop to be spun, then picked up the spun wool and took it to the next worker to weave it, then picked up the cloth and brought it to a tailor to make a suit of clothes, then took the suit of clothes directly to market to sell. The putting-out system is transitional because the workers retain their individual workshops and own their own tools, but they are now more specialized in their tasks, and more exchanges take place between the specialized workers and the merchant. All that is necessary to turn this stage into a full industrial division of labor is for the workers to abandon their workshops and be moved into factories where the workspace, tools and machinery are all owned by the merchant, who we now call an entrepreneur.

The enclosure movement

For this transition to take place, for the once-upon-a-time farmers to become city dwellers, agricultural productivity had to rise to support the increasing urban population—and it did rise. With it, a steady change took place in land ownership, called the enclosure movement. Previously, farmers in the agrarian village had owned their own various strips of land of equal size all interspersed with other farmers’ strips. This form of land ownership required the entire village to coordinate its agricultural methods. The result was very tradition-bound methods of cultivation. Everyone plowed, planted, weeded, and harvested at the same time in the time-honored manner. One farmer alone could not easily innovate on a long, narrow strip.


To allow agricultural innovation, what was needed was consolidated land and someone to farm it. Private individuals—consisting of enterprising farmers, lords of the manor, putting-out merchants, or others—took advantage of opportunities to acquire land from the villages and put some form of barrier around it: fences, stone walls or other ways to clearly enclose it. Pasture—in particular, pasture held in common by an entire village—was the first, easiest land to acquire, and a private individual might acquire it by buying it from a village.


There was an inherent conflict, however, between the village-based usage of common pasture and a private individual’s usage of it. Pasture held in common meant that any member of the village could put his sheep or other animals out to pasture. In contrast, the private individual’s ownership of the former common pasture allowed him to exclude others from it, which he did, sending his own sheep out to pasture for commercial wool production or converting the pasture to cultivated fields where more innovative agricultural methods could be applied to improve the land’s productivity.        


What was happening here is that an older, more decentralized form of economic organization was being replaced by a newer, more centralized one. As we pointed out in Chapter 2, [title]    ……, two different levels of centralization cannot coexist in close proximity, just as an object cannot travel at two different speeds [BETTER EXAMPLE]. Here was an historical instance of this principle. The inherent conflict in land usage patterns as common pasture became enclosed fields was expressed in various ways. Often it was apparently a peaceful changeover, as farmers took advantage of unused pasture and sold it in hopes of taking themselves out of subsistence poverty. On other occasions, the government stepped in and controlled the changeover. On still other occasions, enclosure was greeted with protest and revolt of the village peasants and small farmers, because peaceful or not, enclosure was the end of the agrarian village and the beginning of modern agriculture, albeit in tiny incremental steps, pasture by pasture. Enclosure was to proceed over several centuries………..


On the newly enclosed land turned into crop fields, the new practices of seed selection and crop rotation would produce yet more food than the agrarian village was able to. On the newly enclosed land kept as pasture, the practice of selective breeding would lead to more wool [?????????] for textile industries in the burgeoning towns.


By this time, the craftsmen in the towns already depended on a modestly improved surplus agriculture to survive. The extra food that farmers produced went hand in hand with a growing population. Was there an excess of population that pressured some farmers to move to the city and pressured other farmers to supply more food using improved agricultural techniques? Or did improved cultivation techniques produce more food that allowed an excess population to grow and be attracted to the city? Many pages of scholarly discussion have debated these questions. But for our purpose, we only need to know that everything occurred at about the same time, keeping the whole arrangement of people, villages, cities, agricultural techniques, and food supply more or less consistent with each other. [[[[OMIT? This excess population occurred first and foremost among the farmers.]]]] Other changes were occurring at the same time. Land was a fixed commodity. There was only so much of it. And only a certain number of farmers was needed to farm it. Land was handed down generation after generation by the system known as primogeniture. The first-born son inherited the land in its entirety, keeping the farming practices and farming population stable rather than continuously dividing the land by passing in on equally to all a farmer’s sons. Where was the excess population, the later-born sons, to go? Some of them went into the church as priests, monks and scribes. Some of them became craftsmen or factory workers in the towns and cities. And some of them became landless agricultural laborers—exactly what was needed to farm the consolidated land in more productive ways.

Transverse division of labor


[[[[ REPETITIVE. DELETE THIS OR OTHER ITERATIONS.  In an industrial or transverse division of labor, specialization occurs within the work process required to make one type of product. The various tasks in making any specific product are divided up and assigned to different people. Transverse means “cutting across.” As we said, each worker performs just one task on a product and performs that same short task repeatedly on a much larger number of products than the craftsman produced. The fact that each worker’s one task “cuts across” many products is why this division of labor is called transverse.


To use an over-simplified example, let’s say that making a batch of shoes involves a sequence of buying raw materials, cutting the uppers and sewing them, cutting the soles and sewing them, and finally sewing the uppers to the soles, at which point the shoes are ready to be delivered to customers. The craftsman did all these tasks, one after the other, on one or more pairs of shoes in a small batch. In contrast, the industrialist, whether entrepreneur or worker, performs only one of these tasks in the shoe-making sequence, but he or she (women and children were often used in the beginnings of industrial production) performs that task on many more pairs of shoes than the craftsman did.


So to describe the whole transverse division of labor in a very simple shoe-making process, one person—the entrepreneur or “boss”—acquires the raw materials for both the uppers and soles and delivers materials for the uppers to the first set of workers, who cut and sew the uppers. The entrepreneur also delivers raw materials for the soles to the second set of workers, who cut and sew the soles. Then the entrepreneur takes the uppers and soles from the first and second sets of workers and delivers them to the third set of workers, who sew the uppers and sole together. Finally, the entrepreneur gathers the finished pairs of shoes from the last set of workers and takes them to market to sell them. What is distinctive here is not just the fact that each worker performs only one of the several tasks needed to produce pairs of shoes, but that a single entrepreneur or boss is dealing at each step with a set of workers. The asymmetry in this relationship of entrepreneur to workers, the one-to-many relationship, not only weakens the closeness of each worker-entrepreneur relationship, but is the basis for the entrepreneur’s power or dominance over all the workers. Here we see one interesting feature of modern cities, namely, the increasing subordination of some individuals to others even as “progress” is taking place.]]]]]]

Transverse operations in history


While the transverse division of labor dominates in modern industrial cities, in fact, the principle of a transverse division of labor, of dividing up the various tasks required to produce a product and having different persons perform the different tasks or sets of tasks, occurs throughout human history, ever since the first sexual division of labor was established with the invention of stone tools and the beginnings of [steady] hunting.—in the sexual division of labor. In our very earliest form of organization, the sexual division of labor, we were hunters and gatherers, and exchange of products occurred. The male typically brought meat home from the hunt and gave it to the female to prepare it as food, and between the two of them, to process it further to make food, clothes, huts, and other items. In the same way, the female gathered fruit and vegetables and brought that produce back to the home campsite where she gave some of this food to the male for his consumption. In these times of sharing, of exchange between male and female, we have a transverse division of labor. Each person does a different task on the same work object, and they exchange the work object between them in order for it to be completed and used or consumed.


[[[[[NOT HERE?]]]]  Any division of labor among humans has only two basic ways to divide the work process up—transversely and longitudinally, as we have explained. There are all sorts of ways to distribute transverse and longitudinal work patterns in a division of labor, from the simple exchange between male and female in the sexual division of labor to the very complex patterns of exchanges in a modern industrial division of labor. The key to the transverse division of labor, which is our focus here, is that it involves exchange, the transfer of the same product from one worker to another. Identifying an exchange marks the location of a specific transverse division of labor.


As we have just described, the first transverse division of labor was the sexual one between males and females as early hunter-gatherers. Then the earliest specialists came on the scene, the first applications of the transverse principle beyond the sexual division of labor. That first specialist was typically the medicine man or the religious leader or their functions combined in one person. He or she performed services in exchange for that small amount of surplus food that hunter-gatherers eventually were able to produce.


Then, with yet more surplus food came traders, individuals who specialized in acquiring portable products and exchanging them for other portable products, passing those products from pack to pack, village to village, town to town and city to city. Shells, beads, rare stones, trinkets and a growing supply of luxury goods were the stock in trade of the earliest traders, and the types of products and quantities of products that were traded grew and grew through history. Both the medicine man/religious leader and the trader were the earliest specialists, performing a unique, specialized service or task that others were not able to perform.



Other early forms of the transverse division of labor involved the grain mill and the community oven, owned and built by the lord of the manor. Villagers brought their grain to the mill to be ground into flour, the grain passing into the hands of the miller and after the grinding, passing the flour back to the villagers in exchange for the miller’s own food or other bartered goods. In most cases, the mill or the oven was built and owned by the lord of the manor, the high-status person who gained power over the villagers, in part, simply by controlling this and other specialized tasks or services needed by all.


Enclosure and putting-out system


Start with earliest transverse operations: male and female exchanging food in the sexual division of labor, medicine man/religious person serving religious or healing purposes while receiving food from the natives, traders in increasing importance who carry shells, beads, precious stones, trinkets and a growing supply of luxury goods from pack to pack, village to village, town to town, city to city and exchange these goods for food, other products, or money; ovens crafted by a few but used by all .


​Individually performed work was at the foundation of civilization. And just as the craft division labor did not replace the sexual division of labor but was added on top of it, the industrial division of labor did not replace the craft division of labor, but was built on top of it—maintaining and elaborating the pattern of individually performed work. We will have more to say on this topic later.

In the sexual division of labor, any particular work object was often exchanged at mid-production between a male and a female, but in the purest form of the craft division of labor, the craftsman remained with the object from start to finish, exchanging only the completed object with customers. But the craftsman

The various different tasks involved in making a product are all performed by one person, not divided into separate tasks performed by different individuals, as will develop later with the industrial division of labor. Thus, the basic pattern of historical development is from a sexual division of labor in nomadic packs and agrarian villages to a craft division of labor in early towns and small cities, and then later to an industrial division of labor in larger cities and the nation state.


NOTE:  As the population grew, as packs turned into villages into towns and towns turned into cities, luxury goods were being traded between them all because people began to have extra resources, extra income, more than the bare minimum they needed for survival. At first, the luxury trade was of small objects found in the environment: shells, teeth and bones of prey animals, rare stones. And from this point, the luxury market simply grew and grew until it became the global, industrialized market it is today. All products of industrialization have the quality of being a luxury: bigger and better housing, more tailored clothing, more elaborate food preparation, modern medicine, to mention just a few.


ADD somewhere material on p. 180 [of dissertation] regarding when two or more persons work simultaneously on a single object in the craft or industrial division of labor.


As specialization and mechanization allowed more products to be produced at a cheaper price, products that were once luxury goods became available to the general population, and individual households would, assuming they continued to have the same amount of income, be able to afford more of these goods—making their standard of living go up on the same amount of income. Hence, today we have an affluent society all the way down to almost the poorest citizens, who nevertheless have televisions, phones, indoor plumbing, electricity, and air conditioning—luxuries that could not even be imagined two centuries ago.


[1] Weber, General Economic History, 1961, p. 112.

Task Specialization
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