Talk:Manual labour

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Suggested Edits- Missing Skills and Context[edit]

This entry is lacking insight as to what skills are required in order to be successful in the unskilled or manual labor force. It also does not capture recent trends in the workforce. I believe that this information is crucial to understanding the blue collar worker and his context in today's world.

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There is a lot of overlap with the Workforce entry and both are fairly short, so I think we should combine them. Carax 03:37, 9 September 2006 (UTC)

  • That may be true for the present stubs, but only because neither is properly elaborated- intrinsically the overlap is not essential, both have a potential for various sections that would not logivally fit in the other, e.g. hard labour as a punishment. Fastifex 16:32, 9 September 2006 (UTC)
  • Thought along sentimental lines: would manual labor be given more or less respect if combined with workforce? Roshan Fri, Oct 6 2006

who cares

Fair use rationale for Image:Pyat rublei 1997.jpg[edit]

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BetacommandBot 11:30, 6 July 2007 (UTC)

Unskilled jobs?[edit]

A lot of these white collar rich people sitting in their desks wouldn't be capable of doing a job like construction or vegetable picking. What exactly is skill?

The one who removed the following aught to think again; Here is the text (oct 2010)

New title;labour is the fountain of life - or the choice of the lower classes? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:40, 15 October 2010 (UTC)

In order to make a link between practice and the term *practice* in sociology this paragraph gives a historic backdrop. A mastered skill goes out of practice, but is also a platform for further knowledge. Skills as percieved in Western tradition has focused on the brain. That practice is repetition is clear, it is lifelike to repeat one-self, by improving a practice. The whole life activity revolves around this (cf. Gregory Bateson*Bateson, Gregory, who uses the word difference, to depict this growth), chaos theory revolves around the re-use of a math formula, creating life-like graphic outlays. (see practice - as in repitition). Things made a strange turn after the 17th century.The notion of setting up laws and then investigating them described as rationalism is the world we live in - we have to accept however that this particular turn of events is a complete novelty, practice was the order of the day in ancient times - bookish types were under the protection of Thot in Egypt, and Greece is Greece simply because it focused on the mastery of brainy abilities - it proved them right. We often look back on glorious Greece as the fount of civilisation. In war these skills matter little (man to man) but Greek society was strong in its ability to apply science in organisation as well as in war - an activity at which they excelled. The hated Philestines of the Bible were most probably Greek settlers - the Greek spread (like grasshoppers) all across the mediterranean. In Egyptian sources they are referred to as "Hyskos". So much is clear from history. The conclusion implies that practice is life-like, and secondly that practical things are not bookish things. Eastern wisdom revolves around the more practical side of reality (- is it mere coincidence e.i. that kung-fu was invented in the East?) Demeaning manual labour is coeval with industrialism. Western culture Western culture is sometimes described as a combine of factors, one being science in the form of GalileoGalileo, NewtonNewton, and others. In contrast to materialist and science-based ideas practical wisdom, is not Eastern but human wisdom, it just so happens that two generations back everybody was involved in a practical way of life, so the second conclusion is that practice is the quite ordinary experience of realising life through the mastery of practical skills (since no theoretical ones existed). Food for thought in our present-day society, but a great relief to those who think practice was being extinct - it is - but can well be on the rise again. This is the discussion about wether we have gone too far in our idea of a flawless life without hardship. Things were, to put it succinctly, lost in the process of improvement. Sociology has hit the mark, because practice in terms of brainy sociology is an uncertain thing - for my part, I think part of the reason for this is historic. Even though we must with regret remember the ideas of Nazi Germany - and the slogan of "work is freedom". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:37, 15 October 2010 (UTC)


The primary author of this article, three-quarter-ten, wrote "I'm curious to hear the explanation of how this paragraph "isn't NPOV at all"."

In the interest of not edit warring, I will bring the discussion here. My original assessment was not correct.

"Social systems of every ideological persuasion, from Marxism to syndicalism to the American Dream, have attempted to achieve a successfully functioning classless society in which talented, honest, productive manual labourers can have every bit of social status and power that talented, honest, productive managers can have."

This is NPOV, but it is very much citationneeded (as is most of the article).


"Because of the flaws inherent in human nature, humans have not yet succeeded in instantiating any such utopia, but some social systems have been designed that go far enough toward the goal that hope yet remains for further improvement."

"Flaws inherent in human nature" is not a position held by everyone - it is a specific argument made by some people against utopia. A Marxist, for example, would claim the flaw is not in human nature but in human upbringing and the influence of capitalism. Many behaviorist or social psychologists argue that human behavior arises largely from the situation and culture, and there is no one "human nature", simply human traits that come out in different manners in different societies. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Enigmocracy (talkcontribs) 03:53, 18 April 2011 (UTC)

You have a really good point there regarding alleged "human nature" vs enculturation and behavior. I see now that I need to change that paragraph. The paragraph is about a reality that most humans will recognize (i.e., that despite all attempts to build true classless societies, from "left" to "right" and in between, humans have failed so far, because in each instance they didn't engineer the defenses well enough against how people would abuse/degrade the systems over time, e.g., Stalin hijacked the USSR, and even after he was posthumously (but secretly thus ineffectively) censured, the USSR had bad problems). But that idea needs to be presented in revised wording. I respect the criticism that the content of the article needs more refs. My challenge in providing them is this: when I came to the article, it was very skeletal (just a stub, really). So I filled it in with many of the themes that are relevant to manual labour. But in order to peg each one to a cited ref, it would take a long time, more time than I have due to to-do list triage. So I would just request of anyone who edits (whether Enigmocracy or anyone), I beseech you not to delete more-or-less sound info just for lack of a citation—rather, let it stand for a few years and see if I or anyone else can get around to building up the citations. Except, of course, for specific sentences where you think there's an error. But regarding that, I feel pretty confident that there are very few errors in the content that's here—although the "human nature" one points out that some of them may be camouflaged to my gaze (i.e., hard for me to see till someone explicates). I realize that Enigmocracy was not saying we should blank the article tomorrow because of its problems; I just worry about other users coming along and seeing the tags and deciding that "none of this content has a leg to stand on; I'm blanking it." I guess I should chill out and live with it; cross the bridge only if we come to it, rather than freak out about what-ifs. Regarding the essay tag, I'm not sure how to frame a convincing counterargument except just to say that sometimes if you're trying to teach a reader who has intelligence, but you can't assume what their background knowledge is (or, likely, isn't), you kind of have to use an expository writing style. I feel that the content that's here now is in fact not much more than a succession of objective facts (minus any blind spots you may point out), with just enough expository writing style to make them cohesive—that is, to take a bunch of statements and put them together into a text that's not boring as heck to read. E.g., if you're writing about George Washington, you might present his life story as a narrative rather than a list of bullet points ("death by PowerPoint" as they say). In closing, I appreciate the constructive criticism, and I'm not married to the content in its current version, but I would be troubled to see it wholesale slashed. Hopefully people will try to tweak and cite rather than delete. I will chill out for now and let go of the worry. Thanks, — ¾-10 22:35, 18 April 2011 (UTC)
I deleted that reference to "human nature". By the way, the Khan 2006 [2001] ref looks to be an excellent one. It was added by someone else before I came along. I haven't read it yet, but I just realized that it actually has free full-text access. I downloaded the whole article in PDF. I bet various sentences in the WP article will find support in this WP:RS, whenever I or anyone takes time to read and cite. [Khan, Ali (2006-10-12) [2001], "The dignity of manual labor", Columbia Human Rights Law Review, Social Science Research Network. ] — ¾-10 22:47, 18 April 2011 (UTC)
There are some rather obnoxious expressions in the text. That includes "wage slaves" and also puns intended to whine about "racism". -- (talk) 09:51, 25 July 2012 (UTC)

Cheap labour as a different page?[edit]

Hello! it would be great to learn about cheap or discount labour in general - not just manual labour. Reason: at least in many Western countries, many segments of non-manual labour have been transformed into cheap labour - such as in call centres, internships in NGOs, academic jobs downgraded to scholarship-funded contracts.Ingmar.lippert (talk) 21:45, 13 January 2012 (UTC)

Intriguing and logical. I agree, at first impression anyway. I can envision splitting the cheapness aspect out into a separate main article on cheap labor (physically demanding or not), then having this article link to it as needed. An example of things that formerly overlapped almost completely (cheap and physically demanding) but now, in our postindustrial economies, don't automatically overlap (as you said, most cheap-labor jobs today are actually non–physically demanding jobs). The challenge in actually pulling off this content reorganization is that cheap and physical were so closely intertwined for so many centuries. It's hard to talk about manual labor without talking constantly about social systems that evolved to justify/rationalize ways to keep it cheap over the centuries. Bottom line, I think you hit on a good line of thinking to ponder further. — ¾-10 00:10, 14 January 2012 (UTC)

I think this correlation is backwards[edit]

"Concepts such as the Three-fifths compromise and the Untermensch defined slaves as less than human." Isn't it rather the case that the racial ideology defined blacks and "untermensch" as less than human, and therefore suitable for slavery? And didn't the three-fifths compromise came after that, as an attempt to reduce the the influence of the slave states on government? (The slavers wanted to count slaves in full, but that didn't mean they thought they were fully human or deserving of equal rights). Iapetus (talk) 14:30, 23 February 2015 (UTC)

You're very right in the respect that racism was reinforced by its serving as a rationalization of slavery, serfdom, and other underpaid labor. Which doesn't necessarily mean, though, that it was invented solely for that purpose. Most humans seem to be hardwired to overvalue ingroups and to mistreat and even dehumanize outgroups. But now develop an impressive-sounding superstructure of pseudophilosophy or pseudoscience to rationalize it, and boy howdy, the resulting synergy. The racial inferiority justifies the slavery, and the existing order with its slavery is "evidence" that the racial inferiority belief is justified. It's kind of a feedback loop with no clear beginning rather than a unidirectional causation. Just like being poor is "logical evidence" that you deserve to be poor because you're lazy or mentally inferior. — ¾-10 02:32, 24 February 2015 (UTC)