The Modern Theory of the Division of Labor: Technological Imperative or Implicit Collective Choice?


  • Kenneth Mischel


If Adam Smith’s Theory of development via increasingly specialized divisions of labor constituted neither a complete description of the multivocal processes of industrialization going on around him, nor a unique prescription for technological innovation and economic growth, why did it nevertheless come to occupy an axiomatic status in the modern consciousness? Words come to mean and acts to signify by virtue of the place they occupy within the contexts of practices that in concert comprise a society’s forms of life. Accordingly, the purpose of this paper is to show that the theory gained its “overly-solid” status as the result of the ways in which it became hooked in to emerging conceptions of – serving as a guarantor for – societal order.