Socialization of Labor

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Socialization of Labor


the transformation of the labor process from the individual to the social. It is linked to the development of the division of labor and to the substitution of means of production requiring collective activity for those requiring individual labor.

The development of the productive forces in the primitive commune led to the individualization of labor and the decline of common labor based on primitive technology. This manifested itself in the rise of individual peasants and artisans. Individual labor became especially widespread as feudalism decayed. The advance of technology and of commodity production and the further division of labor led to improved means of production that required the common labor of many people. Since this process took place under conditions in which private ownership prevailed, the socialization of labor took a capitalist form. In place of the independent economic units of the peasant and the artisan, capitalist manufacture emerged, followed by the capitalist factory. The socialization of labor manifested itself in the founding of ever larger enterprises and in the development of specialization, unification into cooperatives, and integration of the economy.

The socialization of labor went beyond the individual factory and led to the formation of various associations of factories and to the establishment of increasingly strong and comprehensive ties between factories and between associations of factories. All social production was finally transformed into an organism in which all components were linked together by a division of labor that was not only territorial but that could take in the production process itself—a form of either technological division of labor or “a finished part” division of labor. In the earlier stages of the socialization of labor, it is impossible to determine which worker in an individual factory produced a particular item, since it is the product of the labor of the entire collective; as socialization of labor progresses, it is impossible to say which factory produced one or another final product, since each product is the result of the activity of tens or even hundreds of separate factories organically linked together by the production process. The socialization of labor resulted in the emergence of the world economy and the world market.

At a certain stage in the development of society, the progressive role of capitalism manifested itself in the socialization of labor and its heightened productivity. Under capitalism, however, the socialization of labor goes hand in hand with increasingly antagonistic contradictions between the social character of labor and the private appropriation of its products, and between capital and wage labor. It also leads to the ruin of small producers and to the capitalist exploitation of economically underdeveloped countries and peoples. Within the framework of capitalism, because of the domination of private ownership, the socialization of labor cannot be extended to embrace all branches and spheres of life or to all countries. One of the tasks of the transition period from capitalism to socialism is to raise the socialization of labor to a high level in all areas and branches of the economy and to replace the individual, private labor of small producers with labor that has been collectivized in a socialist form by the establishment of cooperatives of individual peasants and artisans.

In developed socialist society the socialization of labor continues, based on the growth of productive forces and the construction of the material and technical basis for communism. Through the socialization of labor, the entire economy of each country and ultimately of all the socialist countries together will be transformed into a single productive complex characterized by a high level of industrial and agricultural development in all regions of these countries.

In developing countries as well, further socialization of labor in noncapitalist form is possible because of the construction of large government enterprises and the creation of production cooperatives through the aid of countries in which socialism has triumphed.


Marx, K. Kapital, vol. 1. K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 23, ch. 11; ch. 12, subsec. 4; ch. 24, subsec. 7.
Engels, F. Anti-Dühring. Ibid., vol. 20, sec. 3, ch. 2.
Lenin, V. I. “Razvitie kapitalizma v Rossii.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 3, ch. 5, subsec. 9; ch. 7, subsecs. 1 and 12; ch. 8, subsec. 6.
Lenin, V. I. “Groziashchaia katastrofa i kak s nei borot’sia.” Ibid., vol. 34, pp. 162–91.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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