Historical Sociology by Philip Abrams

By Philip Abrams

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As well as an absence of regulation the history of the division of labour thus proceeds on the basis of the wrong sort of regulation; such regulation as there is, the regulation forcibly imposed by class, thus further distorts the process as a whole. We are left, then, with a situation in which actual history in at least one sphere of activity, the sphere of work, departs drastically from the ideal or possible history Durkheim had extracted from the idea ofthe division oflabour. And because in the transition to industrialism that sphere comes to colour and dominate all other spheres the transition as a whole has to be seen not as a reintegration of society on a new basis but as a Historical Sociology 30 disintegration, a transition to endemic conflict, division and anomie.

At the same time, insofar as the way in which labour is divided gives some people power in relation to others through their ability to appropriate a privileged share of what is produced and use it to their own advantage a contradiction develops between the forces of production on the one hand and the relations of production on the other. Relationships brought into being to advance the satisfaction of common needs become, as a result of the appropriation of surplus produce by some, an obstacle to the further satisfaction of those very needs.

Restitutive law expresses the way in which in becoming more specialised people also become more elaborately, precisely involved with The transition to industrialism: anomie 27 and dependent on one another; the producer of motor cars is not also a producer of clothes; the employer is not also an employee; the bureaucrat is not also a farmer. The division of labour differentiates people but it does so in a way that impels them powerfully to cooperate with one another. In making themselves more specialised as individuals people also increase their interdependence as members of a society.

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