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A Hard Working Man, Aswan Egypt August 1981

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posted by Karol alias Karol ... on Thursday 24th of June 2021 07:32:37 PM

A tribute to all the past, present, future hard working men, women and children in the world. Manual labour (in British English, manual labor in American English) or manual work is physical work done by humans, in contrast to labour by machines and working animals. It is most literally work done with the hands (the word "manual" comes from the Latin word for hand) and, by figurative extension, it is work done with any of the muscles and bones of the body. For most of human prehistory and history, manual labour and its close cousin, animal labour, have been the primary ways that physical work has been accomplished. Mechanisation and automation, which reduce the need for human and animal labour in production, have existed for centuries, but it was only starting in the 18th and 19th centuries that they began to significantly expand and to change human culture. To be implemented, they require that sufficient technology exist and that its capital costs be justified by the amount of future wages that they will obviate. Semi-automation is an alternative to worker displacement that combines human labour, automation, and computerization to leverage the advantages of both man and machine. Although nearly any work can potentially have skill and intelligence applied to it, many jobs that mostly comprise manual labour—such as fruit and vegetable picking, manual materials handling (for example, shelf stocking), manual digging, or manual assembly of parts—often may be done successfully (if not masterfully) by unskilled or semiskilled workers. Thus there is a partial but significant correlation between manual labour and unskilled or semiskilled workers. Based on economic and social conflict of interest, people may often distort that partial correlation into an exaggeration that equates manual labour with lack of skill; with lack of any potential to apply skill (to a task) or to develop skill (in a worker); and with low social class. Throughout human existence the latter has involved a spectrum of variants, from slavery (with stigmatisation of the slaves as "subhuman"), to caste or caste-like systems, to subtler forms of inequality. Economic competition often results in businesses trying to buy labour at the lowest possible cost (for example, through offshoring or by employing foreign workers) or to obviate it entirely (through mechanisation and automation). For various reasons, there is a strong correlation between manual labour and unskilled or semiskilled workers, despite the fact that nearly any work can potentially have skill and intelligence applied to it (for example, the artisanal skill of craft production, or the logic of applied science). It has always been the case for humans that many workers begin their working lives lacking any special level of skill or experience. (In the past two centuries, education has become more important and more widely disseminated; but even today, not everyone can know everything, or have experience in a great number of occupations.) It has also always been the case that there was a large amount of manual labour to be done; and that much of it was simple enough to be successfully (if not masterfully) done by unskilled or semiskilled workers, which has meant that there have always been plenty of people with the potential to do it. These conditions have assured the correlation's strength and persistence. Throughout human prehistory and history, wherever social class systems have developed, the social status of manual labourers has, more often than not, been low, as most physical tasks were done by peasants, serfs, slaves, indentured servants, wage slaves, or domestic servants. For example, legal scholar L. Ali Khan analyses how the Greeks, Hindus, English, and Americans all created sophisticated social structures to outsource manual labour to distinct classes, castes, ethnicities, or races. The phrase "hard labour" has even become a legal euphemism for penal labour, which is a custodial sentence during which the convict is not only confined but also put to manual work. Such work may be productive, as on a prison farm or in a prison kitchen, laundry, or library; may be completely unproductive, with the only purpose being the effect of the punishment on the convict; or somewhere in between (such as chain gang work, treadwheel work, or the proverbial "breaking rocks"—the latter two of which are almost certain to be economically unproductive today, although they sometimes served economic purpose in the preindustrial past). There has always been a tendency among people of the higher gradations of social class to oversimplify the [partial] correlation between manual labour and lack of skill (or need for skill) into one of equivalence, leading to dubious exaggerations such as the notion that anyone who worked physically could be identified by that very fact as being unintelligent or unskilled, or that any task requiring physical work must (by that very fact) be simplistic and not worthy of analysis (or of being done by anyone with intelligence or social rank). Given the human cognitive tendency toward rationalisation, it is natural enough that such grey areas (partial correlations) have often been warped into absolutes (black and white thinking) by people seeking to justify and perpetuate their social advantage. Throughout human existence, but most especially since the Age of Enlightenment, there have been logically complementary efforts by intelligent workers to counteract these flawed oversimplifications. For example, the American and French Revolutions rejected notions of inherited social status (aristocracy, nobility, monarchy), and the labour movements of the 19th and 20th centuries led to the formation of trade unions who enjoyed substantial collective bargaining power for a time. Such counteractive efforts have been all the more difficult because not all social status differences and wealth differences are unfair; meritocracy is a part of real life, just as rationalisation and unfairness are. 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 honest, productive manual labourers can have every bit of social status and power that honest, productive managers can have. 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. At its highest extreme, the rationalised distortion by economic elites produces cultures of slavery and complete racial subordination, such as slavery in ancient Greece and Rome; slavery in the United States; or slavery under Nazism (which was defeated in 1945). Concepts such as the Three-fifths compromise and the Untermensch defined slaves as less than human. In the middle of the spectrum, such distortion may produce systems of fairly rigid class stratification, usually rationalised with fairly strong cultural norms of biologically inherited social inequality, such as feudalism; traditional forms of aristocracy and monarchy; colonialism; and caste systems (e.g., Apartheid, separate but equal/Jim Crow, Indian caste). One interesting historical trend that is true of all of the systems above is that they began crumbling in the 20th century and have continued crumbling since. Today's forms of them are mostly greatly weakened compared to past generations' versions. At the lowest extreme, such distortion produces subtler forms of racism and de facto (but not de jure) inequality of opportunity. The more plausible the deniability, the easier the rationalisation and perpetuation. For example, as inequality of opportunity and racism grow smaller and subtler, their appearance may converge toward that of meritocracy, to the point that valid instances of each can be found extensively intermingled. At such areas of the spectrum, it becomes ever harder to justify efforts that use de jure methods to fight de facto imbalances (such as affirmative action), because valid instances can be highlighted by all sides. On one side, the cry is ongoing oppression (ignored or denied) from above; on the other side, the cry is reverse discrimination; ample valid evidence exists for both cases, and the problem of its anecdotal nature leaves no clear policy advantage to either side. Source Wikipedia. TD : Agfapan 100 Professional 35mm film, developed in D-76 1+1 for 7 minutes. Exposure ISO 100 @35mm lens, natural daylight. Scanned with Alpha 6000 edited in ACR, inverted in CS6.



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