Is the division of labor a positive development or is it something that paves the way for the “alienation” of workers as Marx posited? Contemporary global affairs have been oftentimes cited as characteristic of the so-called globalized era. It is a period where there is an increasing interdependency among countries especially in terms of trade and other activities related to international economics. This interdependency is defined in a way by the specialization of labor in which organizations devote a portion of their workforce in focusing on the production of specific goods.
Durkheim understands division of labor as the force behind the growth of organic solidarity among people (Muller, p. 74). Since not everybody can produce everything that they need, people will necessarily have to depend on one another in order to meet the needed supply of their daily needs. In short, division of labor is seen as a positive development especially when taken in the context of the mass production of goods vis-a-vis the continuous supply for a steady demand of products.
The growing population around the world only indicates that there is a growing demand for various goods at the same time. In order to offset the growth in demand, there must also be a growth in the supply of the goods. The best way to achieve that end is to divide labor accordingly. That is, companies should focus on producing goods through specialized labor. The goods that will be produced are most likely dependent on the available resources. Thus, companies should make full use of the resources that are readily available in their geographical locations.
Without the division of labor, the skills and attention of producers will also be divided. As a result, the quality of the goods that they produce will likewise be direly affected. Although goods will be produced, the scale of the production and its quality will be far less wide than a production-line that makes use of specialized labor. In a larger sense, trade will not be too much of a need for countries, thereby isolating them from one another to a certain extent.
Organic solidarity will not materialize. The division of labor is a positive development. I can only begin to imagine the United States depriving itself of the benefits it receives from global trade just by shifting away from specialized labor. Countries are becoming more and more interdependent; there is hardly any way to turn back now. The most that can be done is to improve the conditions of the workers undertaking the daily routine of working on a single task.