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Discuss How Work Defines Us In The UK And The Changes To The Working Practices Overtime Since The Industrial Revolution

Introduction - Discuss How Work Defines Us In The UK And The Changes To The Working Practices Overtime Since The Industrial Revolution Assignment Sample

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According to Kuok and Taormina (2017), work can be defined as the effort carried out physically and mentally to achieve the desired result. There are various examples of works in contemporary society. The first is the work which is recognized and appreciated in payment form as money is an important factor leading people to work. The work can also be in form of reproductive labor which consists of the efforts to raise the children, especially women who are majorly involved in raising children. The next work example is the labor for maintenance which involves providing maintenance to a family member such as paying bills, cooking and grocery shopping, etc (Kuok and Taormina, 2017). the last example of work will be work related to charity so that people gain recognition in the society, as well as people, feel good by giving. This essay is going to explore the changes in the working practices over time since the industrial revolution by applying two theories. The history of work in Britain has been changing rapidly with the changing period of time. The working practices have been changing after the industrial revolution as these practices were more in the favor of working women; as compared to the men.

Concept and history of work

Work refers to carrying out a specific activity that requires mental and physical expense with an objective to aid in the financial and sociological needs of human beings. In other words, work may be defined as the efforts which are necessary for human survival (Laaser and Karlsson, 2021). The various factors required for work is economic factors in which individual earn to earn income to necessities for survival. The second factor is sociological where a person works for maintaining dignity and status in society and finally, there are psychological factors in which the person feels confident as it helps in fulfilling the desire of human beings thereby providing meaning to the person's life (Laaser and Karlsson, 2021).

These factors significantly affect the working practices and the working behavior of different workers. For example, the physical factors such as the wages being earned by the workers directly affect their survival and standard of living. The higher the wages would be earned by the workers; the higher their standard of living would be. The sociological factors such as status, dignity and respect in the society would result towards the increased productivity among the workers and lead them towards attaining the sustainable business results (Li et al., 2019). The psychological factors such as the confidence and satisfaction among workers could lead them towards enhancing effective and efficient communication and developing strong relations with their co-workers and managers in the long run.

History of work

According to Loh (2021), the concept of work has evolved since the progression of Homo sapiens. In the earlier civilizations of human beings, work has been restricted to simple activities related to the basic needs of humans, childcare, and shelter. The beginning of the division of labor took place when an individual reflected expertise in a particular task such as hunting animals. However, the major labor division took place with the gap in sex and age as the older people of the tribe often carried out easier tasks, and the youngest member was assigned the tasks such as food collection. The physical difference also played an important role in deciding on the tasks. Men took more complex tasks such as hunting while women specialized in tasks such as the gathering of food, cooking, and taking care of children (Livingstone and Watts, 2017).

Until the late 1880s, the unskilled workers were not organized and it was very unusual for married women to work or do any kind of job. Various courses were initiated after the end of Second World War for offering training to the workers and developing skills among them. During the period of 1950s, women started entering into the world of job/ work industry as the adoption of new technologies had made it possible for the women to get paid for their work from their homes. During 1970s, the rate of unemployment got increased drastically and therefore, the Youth Opportunities Program (YOP) was developed for reducing unemployment for the young people (Livingstone and Watts, 2017).

Positive and negative effects of urbanization and industrialization

There are various positive effects on individual lives due to urbanization and industrialization. Urbanization has caused the creation of employment opportunities in society and the lives of individuals. There has been various technological advancement with improved transport and communication facilities leading to high standard lives of an individual. While industrialization has also a few positive aspects as it has brought about a shift in the wealth of people in a positive way. The people had easy reach in having healthy food, cheaper goods, and better housing facilities. The middle and upper segments of the society also got benefitted from industrialization. The industrialization has brought economic development along with the development of machinery used in every sector such as agriculture (Li et al., 2019).

One of the negative effects of urbanization is the increase in population which leads to housing problems and the development of funds with poor health and the spread of infectious diseases. And, the negative effects of industrialization include water and air pollution and contamination of soil which result in degradation of life expectancy and life quality. Industrialization also resulted in income inequality as those who had the means of production and capital became rich and thus the gap widened (Majeed and Tauqir, 2020).

Life of worker in past according to Marxist theory

According to Karl Marx, the life of workers is the extraction of labor into something that can be of economic value. According to the views of Marxist, the ordinary labourers or the workers can be readily replaced in the phases of high rate of unemployment and during the past; in most of the cases, the business owners used to get most of the work done by their labourers by paying them the lowest amount of wages for maximizing their amount of business profits. This theory reflects that such kind of the behaviour of business workers creates an unfair balance between the labourers and business owners as the labourers or ordinary workers get exploited drastically (Rahman et al., 2020).

Sociological theory of work – Marxism, and feminism

The Marxism theory of work is also called the labor theory where Marx described the power of the labor and their capacity to produce goods and services. The application of this theory can ensure greater benefits to the workers as they can be paid according to their level of capacity, working hours, their needs, clothing requirements and the shelter. The theory of Marxism and feminism had further analysed that the exploitation of women workers can be done in two ways including the capitalism and individual ownership of the private property (Ritzer and Stepnisky, 2017). A unique solution had been proposed by this theory for this kind of exploitation i.e. liberating women from all kinds of forced connections to the reproductive labour. Women workers must develop their connections with the economic system; rather than that with men.

Laaser and Karlsson (2021) mentioned that the theory of Marxism has certain pros and cons that are required to be considered in the discussion on workers. The first upside of the theory is that is develops a system of equality among male and female. The theory emphasises on equal education access, gender roles, and healthcare. Another pro of the theory is that it encourages labour unions to take a stand for personal rights (Loh, 2021). However, the downside is that it discards the concept of religion in the workplace setting which contradicts the idea of equality. Moreover, it eliminates the concept of entrepreneurs and freelancers as it focuses on the organised workplace setting for people.

Effect on people due to unemployment linking to Maslow theory

According to Maslow's theory of hierarchy of needs and using it towards unemployment provides many reasons why unemployment harms people's lives. Based on the level of the hierarchy of needs, the impact of unemployment on individual lives has been discussed. At the psychological level, the employee or a worker is highly stressed as he doesn't have the money to pay for his basic needs and at this stage, it may be possible that an individual can feel depressed and sick. In the second level, a person is more concerned about his or her safety in terms of housing and other necessary belongings (Bakker, 2021). If the person is unemployed, he may stress about losing his belongings as he may be running out of his savings and it may happen that this stress will lead to any health issues of that person.

According to the third level of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, the unemployed person may often face challenges in terms of his or her relationship with their family members and their friends. In this stage, one may feel deprived of love and respect as he does not have a job (Hopper, 2020). Unemployment harms the personal esteem as he does not get the love and respect that he requires and the final level of self-actualization states that unemployment often hinders the person able to feel happy and contributing to society and negatively impacts the person causing stress and health issues (Hopper, 2020).

Maslow hierarchy of needs

How work (income, job, and wealth) defines class in British society

The new classes as per income, job, and wealth which defines the British society include the elite group who are the more privileged group in the UK as they have most of the wealth and fall under the highest income groups and with all the social, economic and cultural capital. The second class has been defined as the second wealthiest who are established middle class which has all the three capitals and falls under the second-highest in terms of cultural capital (Manstead, 2018). Then there is the technical middle class which scores low for cultural and social capital which is also a distinctive and small group that is prosperous.

The next comes to the affluent workers who are very active socially and culturally and are among the young groups having a middle level of economic capital. The following class are the traditional working-class but have high-value houses and are low on all forms of capital. The emergent service workers are the next category of workers who possess high social as well as the cultural capital; but still seems to be poor. The last and final category is of the poorest class who possess very low cultural and social capital (BBC News, 2021).

Impact of Work Physically, Mentally, and Socially

Wellbeing is a multidimensional concept that may be seen as culmination of mental and physical state interacting with the social aspects of a person’s work and life (Manstead, 2018). Wellbeing has many measures, including quality of life. Poor wellbeing may have adverse effects on individual’s productivity, engagement, and also on organisational performance (Fagan and Rubery, 2018). Kuok and Taormina (2017) mentioned that work-related stress can have detrimental impact on social life, mental & physical health of a person. These stresses can be induced by poor social support, workload, lack of training & guidance, poor work-life balance, and prolonged working time. However, leadership guidance, support, training, and recreational working environment can improve the mental health.

Change in working conditions due to globalization

Globalization which has been defined as a barrier that is decreasing while there is an increase in trade, investment and migration directly impact the workers in both developed and developing countries while working condition can be defined as a condition related to wages, health, and safety, hour security and benefits. However, globalization has something more to offer to the workers as the working conditions (Lamont et al., 2017). These include increased cultural diversity as due to globalization, the companies deal with various individuals of different cultural backgrounds which have been proved to be beneficial as the company is now able to gain new thoughts and insights into various other cultures from a marketing and management point of view.

Also, as more companies are involved internationally with various other companies through outsourcing, there has been a shift in wages for the workers. Furthermore, with the emergence of globalization, training and development programs within the companies have become more prevalent for employees growth and also due to cultural diversity which requires training within the employees to understand each other culture and beliefs so that they can have a cordial relationship within themselves (Lamont et al., 2017).

Policies related work in line with present circumstances

The two policies that have been discussed below with the present circumstances are the Equal Opportunity policy and flexible working arrangement policy.

Equal opportunity policy (Equality Act 2010)

An equal opportunity policy refers to freedom against any discrimination of gender, age, race, sex, class, and ethnicity. These policies have been framed to promote equality by ensuring diversity within the workplace. This implies that men and women should get an equal opportunity at the workplace which has positively impacted the women workforce as they have now gained equal status in the workplace and can work with men with the same respect and dignity (Fagan and Rubery, 2018).

Flexible working arrangement policy

This policy is framed to promote flexibility in the working hours of the employees. In other words, this policy helps an employee to work that suits the need of the employee (Chung, 2018). For example, during the time of the global pandemic, the work from the home policy has been introduced.

Work with socio-economic factors (education theory, functionalism) about occupational class status

The socioeconomic factors in work about occupational status include factors such as income level, gender, age, and education (Bal et al., 2021). The income level and education represent status and resources which affect the occupational class as individuals with high income are generally believed to be an individual of high occupational class and the person having high education are also believed to have high occupational class status and vice versa.

Concerning gender, men are believed to be having a high level of occupational class as compared to women. Furthermore, socio-economic factor such as age also decides occupational class status (Bal et al., 2021). For example, a 65-year-old individual with high education is often considered more experienced and thereby earning a high income as compared to the young person while a young man entering as a fresher have less experience however with high education earns less as compared to the man of 65 years. Hence, it can be said that in deciding the occupational class status, socioeconomic factors like education, income level, age, and gender play a significant role.


To conclude, the concept of work and its role in deciding on the class have been discussed in this essay along with the shift in the working practices since the industrial revolution have been discussed by explaining the history of work, the role of industrialization and globalization in the working conditions and practices as well as how the work and worklessness affect an individual. The sociology theory of Marxism was discussed and it was highlighted that it has certain pros and cons that are required to be considered when the workplace equality is discussed. The essay has further involved the discussion of various factors including the sociological, psychological and physical factors along with their respective impacts on the working conditions and working behaviour of the workers. The level of motivation among workers can get increased by their managers by applying the Maslow need hierarchy theory. The impact of work on physical and mental health is significant and its adverse impact is required to be highlighted. It also have impacts on the social life of workers and therefore, work-life balance is crucial.


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