Started on: 4 March 2014
C LASS N OTES FOR : P OLI S CI 2J03
McMaster University, Winter 2014
M ONDAY , M ARCH 3, Y
- Division of labour - where people / places fit into the process of production
o How tasks are assigned to different people in different groups
- THREE LEVELS
o Local - workplace tasks, occupational specialization
Differences in terms of divisions of labour within the local?
National or local level - different divisions of levels within occupations
• National - manufacturing, services sector, and even within these
sectors there are different people doing different jobs
• Individual specialization in particular tasks
o International - trade and comparative advantage
What kinds of things different countries produce
If specific countries specialize in importing different things
o Global - places in transnational production
Global division of labour
Different from an international division of labour
Its meant more in terms of processes of production that stretch across
Differentiation between international v. global
• Product like a t-shirt, it has been produced in various places
o Cotton shirt, (cotton could have been grown in Burkina or
Texas, etc. or amalgamated from different places, woven in
a factory somewhere, and then it would have been sent in
sheets to some part in South East Asia, then it would have
been shipped to a ‘branded’ company where it is sold)
While the t-shirt shows up international trade
figures, we think in terms of a global division of
labour, it is hard to determine where it comes from.
Global division of labour, production does not
necessarily take place in ONE particular place.
o How are tasks assigned to particular people and places?
What shapes the division of labour?
o How are tasks valued?
Some parts of the process are more highly rewarded than others
Who benefits and who profits
How do we decide what is worth more?
- ADAM SMITH
o Efficiency and the factory system
o “The pin”
o Wealth of Nations
o Derives from propensity to truck, barter and trade
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Winter 2014 Started on: 4 March 2014
o Division of labour are natural
o Three arguments (1) if you are doing one particular repetitive task, you will get
better at it and do it faster (2) if you do not need to get up and move around to
find tools, you waste less time (3) if you simplify and break down tasks, it makes it
easier to assign machinery in parts of the process.
Making the pin!
If one person were trying to do the whole thing itself.
A skilled person could make “20” pins a day
If you break the whole process into steps, and assign these steps into
different people, 10 people could make 48,000 pins in a day.
• More specialization, production is more efficient!
o Where does it come from and how do you get a division of labour?
Natural propensity to trade and pursue self interest
Truck, barter and trade
People have naturally different skill sets for different things.
It’s better to trade with one another than to make things themselves.
- Smith and other liberals - the division of labour is natural
- Power relations shape division of labour
- Three sort of different critics highlighted
o Dependency theories (IDL and Colonialism)
Not so much shaped by natural propensities, but it is shaped by
o Economic nationalists perspectives
Things that gov’ts can do to shift their division
Repressing unions and holding down labour costs and wage costs
Funding training programs
State strategies to shape IDL
o Feminists perspectives
Gendered divisions of labour
Women’s work is poorly paid, often insecure and in terms of ‘carrying’
functions such as work in the home.
- Changes in the production process
- Factories were established by the end of the 19 century, but the division of labour was a
little harder to realize.
- Workers doing the same thing over and over again are not necessarily going to work as
quickly as they can.
o Problems for factory owners and managers; was how to control what was going
on in the factory home.
Taylorism - observation, timing, control
• He was obsessed with “soldering”; workers dragging their feet and
not working as fast as they could.
• How to prevent workers from soldering?
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• “Scientific management”
o Managers would figure out how everything work and would
codify how to do things faster, more efficient and better.
o Managers ended up gaining a lot of control over how
workers spent their time and how processes worked.
o By observing things closely and codifying how the process-
work (1) Managers would concentrate knowledge about
the production in their hands, workers became more
replaceable. (2) expanded management control a lot by
having people observe what was going on in the factory.
Fordism - assembly line, mass production and mass consumption
• Innovation, it has the machine pace the whole process of
• Designed cars to be put together in a standardized way, with parts
in a specific order.
• Speeded up the process of workers
• Strongest workers at the beginning of the line to force everyone to
keep up with them
• Pace of work was unrelenting and quick and things were quickly
• Ford paid well above subsistent wages!
• Mass production with mass consumption!
• After world war II,
• A fordist compromise - factories relying on organized labour, made
to maintain bureaucratized labour relations. Higher wages, and
redistribute policies to maintain high standards and high
consumptions to keep factories running. As long as the gains were
redistributed by the state, welfare policies, etc. everyone was
• Depended on having colonial relationships, was only used in
Europe, needed to have other countries create inputs that were not
made in factories.
• Came under pressure in the 1970s as developing countries started
to manufacture goods
• Globalizing production put pressure on fordism!
Post-fordism - Flexibilization and informalization
• Since the 1980s
• Just in time production, etc. (transnational production)
• ** Flexibilization has important implications for the fordist
o It is difficult to maintain fordist redistribute system when
there are declining full time workers
o Implications of flexibilization there are less and less
workers who pay into the national pension scheme,
purchasing things, and so on.
o Welfare system that was central to fordist compromise is