As the world has evolved, so too has the behaviour of the working classes. From the earliest hunter-gatherer times when labour existed purely for subsistence to the modern day where much of labour does not produce any tangible result, the role and expectations from labour have varied dramatically. For much of modern history, most of the labour force was engaged in agricultural work, often with any surplus value being tithed to the landlord, or was focused on the learning and operation of a trade, however this all changed with the introduction of mass industrialisation. Where once every detail of a trade would be passed from master to journeyman to apprentice, with an almost-guaranteed upward progression, the rise of factories introduced incredibly acute specialisation and vastly reduced opportunities for progression between heirarchial layers .
Early industrialisation brought with it an acknowledgement of the true potential of surplus labour as a creator of mass profit. As workers, faced with a ‘choice’ between working for a subsistence wage or not being able to subsist, would generally work for a subsistence wage, capitalists were able to extract vast surpluses of profit above the subsistence wage through the advent of ever-improv...
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...ght specifically how to complete their job and no other, and the managers use their monopoly on semi-complete knowledge to control the workers . This has resulted in greater and greater surpluses being possible for managers which have, in turn, lead to what King refers to as the ‘Great U-Turn’, a divergence in equality between the working classes, whose real wages have tendencies towards stagnation but whose productivity is ever increasing, and the managers who gain ever greater profits from the combination of technological development and mass specialisation .
As surplus labour has become ever more prevalent, so too should theories regarding it become more mainstream. Wages today are very rarely even closely correlated with actual value produced, instead capitalists exploit workers who are given little option but to work in order to maximise their personal profits.
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