6. Works and Economic Life:
Work whether paid or unpaid, can be defined as being carrying out of tasks requiring the expenditure of mental and physical effort, which has as its objective the production of goods and services that cater to human needs.
An occupation or job, is work that is done in exchange for a regular wage or salary. In all cultures work is the basis of the economy. The economy system consists of institutions that provide for the production and distribution of goods and services.
Many types of work do not conform to orthodox categories of paid employment. Much of the work done in the informal economy, for example is not recorded in any direct way in the official employment statistics. The term informal economy refers to transaction outside the sphere of regular employment, sometimes involving the exchange of cash for services provided, but also often involving the direct exchange of goods and services.
(a) Social organization of work
One of the most distinctive characteristic of modern societies is the existence of a highly complex division of labour: work has divided into an enormous number of different occupations in which people specialize, In traditional societies, non agricultural work entailed mastery of a craft, craft skills were learned through a lengthy period of apprenticeship, and the worker normally carried out all aspects of the production process from the beginning to end. For example a metal worker making an iron plough would froge the iron, shape it and assemble the implement itself.
Modern society has also witnessed a shift in the location of the work. Before industrialisation, most work took place at home and was completed by the members of the household. Advances in industrial technology, such as machinery operating on electricity and coal, contributed to specialisation of work and home. Factories owned by entrepreneurs became the focal point of the industrial development: machinery and equipment were concentrated within them and the mass production of goods began to eclipse small scale artisanship based in the home.
Early sociologists wrote extensively about the potential consequences of division of labour- both for individual workers and for society as a whole. Karl Marx was one the first writers to speculate that the development of modern industry would reduce many man work to dull, uninteresting tasks. According to Marx the division of labour alienates human beings from their work. For Marx, alienation refers to feeling of indifference or hostility not only to work, but to the overall framework of industrial production within a capitalist setting.
Durkhiem had more optimistic outlook for the division of labour although he too acknowledged its potentially harmful effects. According to Durkhiem, The specialisation of roles would strengthen social solidarity within communities. Rather than living as isolated, self sufficient units, people would be linked together through their mutual dependency. Solidarity would be enhanced through multidirectional relationships of production and consumption. Durkhiem saw this arrangement as a highly functional one, although he was also aware that social solidarity could be disrupted if change occurred too rapidly. He referred to this as normlessness as anomie.