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Changes in Social Relationships at Work Under Different Modes of Production

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NAME; TAWANDA

COURSE; INDUSTRIAL SOCIOLOGY

QUESTION; DESCRIBE THE CHANGES IN SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS AT WORK UNDER DIFFERENT MODES OF PRODUCTION.

Social relationships at work have been changing over time under different modes of production. However, the definition of work has been a contested area due to factors like the differentiation and work and labour, work and non-work and work as employment among other factors. Even though Arendt (1958) defines work as activity undertaken with our hands which gives objectivity to the world. Social relations have been changing to meet the demands of the type of mode of production. In broad outline, Marxist theory recognises several distinctive modes of production characteristic of different epochs in human history.

Primitive communism is the first mode of production in the Marxist theory. This is described as a traditional type of cooperation which first appeared about two million years ago. During this period relations of production were based on collective ownership of the means of production by individual communes. They used extremely backward productive forces and primitive forces of labour which can also be called collective labour thus social relationships at work were characterised by collective labour. Due to these characteristics there was economic equality among the primitive people and the absence of exploitation of man by other man. These people were independent with no one to push anyone. During this period, according to Watson J.T (1995), one`s work was seen more as an inevitable burden than as a way of oneself. Hard work was done because survival demanded it. There was also little separation of home and workplace. However, there was a division of labour which was based on sex and age only. There was no private ownership of anything.

Further developments in this mode of production led to the social division of labour. Due to increased production individual families` economies came into their own and territorial commune emerged. The industrial labour of individual farms gave rise to private ownership of the means of production in the tribal commune. The emergence and development of private property created property inequality and ultimately exploitation of man by men. The initial form of class society was Marxist`s Asiatic mode of production. This theory tries to explain the pre-slave and pre-feudal large earthwork constructions in China, India and the Nile valley. This period marks the beginning of hostility in social relations among different communes. Raiding of other communes was now considered as work as it provided objectivity to the other commune. One community would raid the other and labour would be extracted from the raided communities. This labour was used in monumental construction of pyramids, the Chinese great wall among others. This period also marks the beginning of a slave and master relationship. Social relationships and the division of labour were no longer based on sex and age but the subjugated would work for their subjugators showing a change in social relationships at work under different modes of production.

The slave mode of production can be described as the later stage of the Asiatic mode of production. Due to the development of states and the fighting and competition among them, it became profitable to turn prisoners of war into slaves in order to obtain a surplus product. As slave owning relations evolved, the primitive commune completely disintegrated. The primitive mode of production was replaced by the slave owning mode of production (Leninist.biz). The slave mode of production is characterised by the direct possession of individual human beings. The social relations at work were that of a slave owner and a slave. In this relationship, a slave has no say of whatsoever processes which will be taking place. The duty of the slave is to obey his master`s commands, they are people in bondage that is slaves have no independence. The social relations between a slave and his master were purely based on unequal power relations. The slaves had to produce for their masters and Marxism goes on to argue that slave no longer did work but labour for others.

The feudal mode of production according to Marxist perspective emerged after the slave mode of production. It was defined by Max Weber (1968) in his book Economy and Society as ‘a separation of power’. The primary forces of production included highly complex agriculture according to Marx. Watson J.T argues that exploitative relationships were between social groups. The hierarchical relationship existing between people were nevertheless based on a certain recognised mutual dependence and some sort of reciprocity. However, in the feudal time, the primary form of property is the possession of land in reciprocal contract relations. The social relationships which existed during this period were those of a landowner and a peasant. The possession of human beings as peasants or serfs was dependent upon their being entailed upon the land. Feudalism is typified by the systems of the west and exemplified by England and France. Feudalism was a simple system but effective. All land was owned by the king who kept a quarter of the land as his personal property. Some of the land was given to the church and the rest was leased under strict controls. In E England, the men who leased the land from the king were called barons who then divided some of the land to the knights. The knights were given land I return for military service when demanded by the king. The knights distributed the land to the serfs on certain agreements. The social relations during this were those of a landlord and a tenant.one of the agreements entered by the tenants was called rent in kind. In this relationship tenants would give a share of their produce to the landlord as rent. Another agreement was called labour rent whereby a tenant was supposed to work in the landlord`s farm for a part of the season. Exploitation occurred through reciprocated contract which ultimately rested on the threat of forced eviction {historyonthenet.com}. The social relations of the feudal system were very unfair and exploitative.

The capitalist mode of production represents the contemporary mode of production. Hayter R suggests that industrial structures have been continually transformed by technology; labour has not passively waited to be exploited but has developed abilities to cope with capitalism on its own terms. Industrial capitalism is crisis ridden and for many peoples a source of sustained injustice. It is associated with modern industrial societies. The social relations in this mode are the the primary forms of exploitation which is wage labour. The ruling class in this system is the bourgeoisie which exploits the working class that is the proletariats. According to Tilly C and Tilly C, (1998), the near monopolisation of the coercive means by bourgeoisie dominated states promoted the consolidation and protection of bourgeoisie property and the extinction of claims on local communities for subsistence of the poor and unemployed. These changes in property rights advanced proletarianisation of the workers and investment of capitalists in factories. Braverman also argues that the worker enters into the employment agreement because social conditions leave him or her no other way to gain livelihood. The employer on the other hand is the possessor of a unit of capital which he is endearing to enlarge and I order to do so he converts part of it into wages. This is set in motion the labour process. Braverman goes on to say the division of labour destroys occupations considered in this sense and renders the worker inadequate to carry through any complete production process. Under capitalism people sell their labour power when they accept compensation in return for whatever work they do in a given period of time. In other words they are not selling the product of their labour but their capacity to work. In return for selling their labour they receive money which allows them to survive. This tries to show the worker employer relationship which is exploitative.

Marxist theories also stretch into the future. Marx, quoted by Hayter R says economic injustices can only be resolved when workers regain the means of production through the socialist mode of production. He goes on to say that the socialist mode of production was historically inevitable. Even though the socialist mode of production has not yet come into effect. However, some theorists argue that prefiguring forms of socialism can be seen in voluntary workers cooperatives, strike committees, labour unions, soviets and revolutions. The social relationships for this mode are supposed to be equality because the workers would have seized the means of production. The socialist mode of production is meant to be a society based on workers` control of all the production. The primary ruling class of this mode is supposed to be the working class. The primary form of exploitation is meant to be self-exploitation. In this mode of production the workers are not under bondage but they are free. The social relationships at work for this mode of production are like brotherhood with equality.

Marx believed that the last mode of production will be communism cited in the far future. Communism is meant to be a classless society with the management of things replacing the management of people. This in itself shows how the relationship at work will be like. The relationship will not be between people but between people and machines. Some economic theorists have hypothesised that communism is more than a thousand years away from full implementation despite the imminent potential of communism.

To sum up, the social relationships at work have been changing and according to Marxist theories will continue to change even in future modes of production. The changes will take place to suit the modes of production. Therefore it can be concluded that social relations at work change to meet the needs of the modes of production.

REFERENCES:

Braverman; (1988); LABOUR AND MONOPOLY CAPITAL; Monthly review press; HD4851 bra (1988)

Hayter R; (1997); THE DYNAMICS OF INDUSTRIAL LOCATION; HC79 Hay (1997)

Watson T.J; (1995); SOCIOLOGY, WORK AND INDUSTRY; HD 6955 WAT (1995)

Tilly C and Tilly C; (1998); WORK UNDER CAPITALISM; Westview press; HD4901 (1998)

Weber Max; (1968); ECONOMY AND SOCIETY; HM57 (1968)

www.age-of-the-sage.org

http://leninist.biz

www.historyonthenet.com

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