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The Other Division of Labour

  • Paul Thompson
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Abstract

This not untypical quote emphasises that all labour power is not regarded or treated equally. So there is ‘another’ division of labour, in this case a system of allocating particular tasks to men and others to women. Marx used the distinction between a social and technical division of labour to differentiate between the process, in any system of production, whereby groups of workers are allocated to different branches of production, under capitalism through the market, and the division of tasks between workers producing the same commodity. That double division has enormous significance for a study of the labour process, for as Philips and Taylor indicate, ‘the technical division of labour is almost invariably hierarchised along sexual lines; women sew what men design and cut out; women serve what men cook; women run machines that men service; and so on and so on’ (1978: 1). It is therefore impossible to understand the distribution of skills, methods of control and organisation of work, different rates of exploitation, or any other factor connected to the labour process, without seeking to explain the relations between those social and technical dimensions.

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© Paul Thompson 1989

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  • Paul Thompson

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