Why are the division of labour and the factory so controversial

Division of labour is an approach used in completion of tasks. This normally involves the breaking down of a complex task, into many simpler tasks, which are then handled by different workers. These workers work on the parts of the task, which they are specialized in. as these are the tasks, they are assigned. According to Sabel (1982), division of labour has both positive and negative influences on workers and factories. These effects are both social and economic in nature. The controversy surrounding division of labour in factories has however, been a historical issue. In this paper, I will focus on the works of different scholars, including Adam Smith, Frederick Taylor, Karl Marx, among many others, whose contributions to the concept of division of labour contributes to the controversial debate on the issue. I will compare and contrast their approaches used to address division of labour in factories, and its effects. Adam Smith first used the term division of labour, in his work, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. He defined division of labor as the process in industries, where the process of manufacturing is divided into simpler and specific operations that are assigned to particular workers to handle. Smith supported the process of division of labour, citing that this process is capable of more productivity in a factory, compared to those factories that do not employ division of labour in their operations. He also attributes division of labour to the increase of judgment and skill level in workers (Smith 1976). Although Adam Smith was not responsible for coining the term division of labour, or the first to address the concept, his ideas and thinking on the effects of division of labour had an impact on the other thinkers that came after him, including Karl Marx (Hill 2004). Different thinkers show different perceptions toward division of labour, which are both positive and negative. Adam Smith was positive about division of labour, but did not focus on the long-term effects of division of labour (Hill 2004). The contribution of Adam Smith to the effects of division of labour remains important today. He focused on the analysis of the benefits of this process, based on its approach of job specialization. Smith argued that division of labour was beneficiary to both factories and workers, as it boosted independence of workers (Hill 2004). Smith considered specialization detrimental to workers. Although this serves to reduce the quantity of work, Smith identified other negative effects of specialization. First, he argued that when a worker is restricted to only particular aspects of a job, this also restricts their natural inventiveness. Additionally, this impairs the worker’s physical capabilities (Smith 1976). This also limits their use of physical strength in performing different duties, since they are physically programmed to perform only specific duties. Smith also notes that, this turns workers into automated machines, as like machines. they only have one line of duty to perform. Smith did not however, recommend any solutions. He believed that specialization was a natural process, which cannot be avoided by humans, but which humans can adapt to (Smith 1976: Hill 2004). Smith (1976) considered division of labour as responsible for propagating social inequality and exploitation of workers. When masters are in disputes with their workers, the workers are the losers. However, Smith believed that in specialization, workers had the opportunity to be their own bosses, therefore, also had the chance to leave work in the factories, and go