[Marxism] Social versus Technical Division of Labor

Marinus Hooft wobblydeveloper at gmail.com
Sat Nov 23 12:59:29 MST 2013

That's a very clear breakdown in terms of value theory, thanks. My
confusion has to do with the degradation of work (and so, the one-sided
development of the worker) under capitalism.

> SM :  In what sense were they "deskilled"? Because they were not skilled
> in - or unaware of the nature of - the skilled labour performed by the
> workers done or commodities produced in other branches of capital to which
> these CNC 'tweaked' products were sold?

Well, for one thing, they required much less training. Most had at most few
years of trade school (like me) rather than PhDs (like the engineers who
sent out for these parts to be machined).

What I read Marx (and Braverman following him) to be saying is that under
the capitalist mode of production the division of labor between sets of
workers who are capable of bringing a "complete commodity" to market is not
the cause of the "degradation of work" (Braverman's term, I think). Only
the detail division of labor within a particular firm (that is, unmediated
by commodity exchange) is to blame.

I guess I'm just unclear on how they can be delineated. Hence my aerospace
example, which seems to be a clear case of a detailed division of labor
that crosses firm boundaries.

Another example, from my current line of work, would be dedicated "Quality
Assurance" (software testing) firms, which a software company might
contract all testing out to. Testing, which was once the responsibility of
the engineer herself, became a distinct job that her employer found
lower-skill (that is, lower cost of production, therefore commanding lower
wage) workers to do. So far, this is a classic application of the "Babbage
Principle". We then see this "detail work" move out of the firm to be
handled by another capitalist.

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