Social Value of Labor - Sociology of Labor

The social value of labor

The social value of labor is the extent to which one or another type of work is significant to society in terms of achieving its goals.

For the sociology of labor, this phenomenon is of the greatest interest, since it makes it possible to establish the significance of various types of labor for any type of society.

The evaluation of the human labor society has a dual form of manifestation. On the one hand, society evaluates human activity for its usefulness. Labor is purely socially useful activity, and, as mentioned above, there is no useless labor. Moreover, the usefulness of labor is always constant. For example, the work of a teacher, doctor, miner or janitor can not be compared in terms of differences in utility. Everyone's work is equally useful for society, as it is claimed by them on a par with others. Imagine that there is no such labor (and, accordingly, those who implement it), which allows you to get rid of illnesses or to get a secondary education that provides raw materials for keeping the heat in the houses or keeps the courtyards and the road clean and tidy. Obviously, it is impossible to establish which labor is more useful than the others. All of them are equally useful, as everyone solves the list of tasks, thereby satisfying a certain block of social needs. If, for example, a janitor's work turns out to be an unclaimed society, then it will simply cease to exist as labor.

On the other hand, it is obvious that society does not evaluate the work of different professions differently, i.e. different types of labor have different social value. Everything depends on the extent to which a particular work is in demand by society, is valuable to society. The value of a particular type of labor is determined by a sufficiently large list of various requirements for its implementation. The most significant are the following:

1. Vital for each person types of work. For example, at all times the work of a teacher and the work of a doctor were of high value in society.

2. Types of work that require long training, special knowledge and create new knowledge for society. Here an example is the work of scientists, designers, managers of IT projects.

3. Special, non-standard, highly specialized types of work, involving creative abilities and skills for implementation. An example is the profession of a conductor or composer, which requires not only a long special education, but also talent.

Thus, the high value for society is labor demanding a high level of knowledge, long-term specialized training, creative potential and creative abilities.

You can also list work that has a relatively low value. This work, which requires special long-term preparation, is standardized, i.e. available in its implementation to most people, not involving special talents and abilities. Here you can include the work of the seller in the store, the controller in public transport, the guard, the cloakroom attendant, etc.

It should be pointed out that value is a dynamic characteristic of labor. At different times the value of the same type of labor can be different. For example, the work of a blacksmith in the Middle Ages was highly esteemed in society, since he required special training, skill, professional knowledge, including secrets. The product of the blacksmith's craft was very much in demand by peasant farms, because farmers, as a rule, could not create high-tech tools at that time. Everything changed with the spread of industrial production. The use of machines, such as a forge press, rolling mill, simplified and intensified the work of forging metal. Their implementation no longer requires the employee to have high professional knowledge. He rather became an auxiliary work force, dependent on the machine and serving it, rather than the main producer. Such work is not appreciated by society.

Valuation allows you to compare the work of different professions. Moreover, it is possible to name criteria of value of this or that kind of work. The economic criterion for assessing labor in a market economy is income (wages). A social criterion is the respect and recognition by society of the importance of certain professions. It should be noted that the economic criterion is by no means always identical with the social one. For example, in the field of show business, fees are high, although often the value of labor and its product is highly questionable. On the contrary, the work of the sphere of education and medicine has a high public appraisal, but wages, for example in the United States, are clearly understated.

Finally, the value of labor determines the social status of the person who carries it out. In today's world it is difficult to talk about a close correlation between these two parameters, but it certainly exists and can be defined as follows: the higher the social value of labor, the higher the status of a person in society. Activities for the benefit of the society involves public encouragement, which is to confirm or change the status of a person included in society. Moving from the rank-and-file accountant to the top manager of the corporation and from the musician of the regional philharmonic society to the conductor of the Bolshoi Theater undoubtedly means raising the social status.

So, the value of labor is the most important phenomenon for sociological research. Thanks to the study of this phenomenon, sociology can identify the preferences that are formed in people in the process of choosing a profession, the attractiveness of one or another type of work, the motivation for its implementation, the expectations from its implementation, social attitudes and stereotypes regarding labor, etc. The most important: labor allows us to know whether it represents a goal for man, and hence, a source of development, or is only a means of achieving the goals of another order. The value of labor in a society depends on what content and character it has.

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