Manual labour (manual labor in American English) or manual work is physical work done by people, most especially in contrast to that done by machines, and also to that done by 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 19th century 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.
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 ensures that businesses will always try 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).
Read more about Manual Labour: Relationship To Low Skill and Low Social Class, Relationship To Mechanisation and Automation, Relationship To Offshoring, Worker Migration, Penal Labour, and Military Service, See Also
Other articles related to "labour, manual labour":
... In comparison, female property rights and wage labour were relatively uncommon in Europe until the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries ... The division of labour was diverse and had been evolving over the centuries ... These changes in the division of labour reflect the increased mechanization and use of machinery to replace manual labour and the increased standard of living and quality of life of most citizens in ...
... The Lombards and the Humiliates gave manual labour the first place ... This predominance of manual labour we also find a deciding factor in the reorganization of the Reconciled Lombards ...
Famous quotes containing the words labour and/or manual:
“We all labour against our own cure, for death is the cure of all diseases.”
—Thomas Browne (16051682)
“If the accumulated wealth of the past generations is thus tainted,no matter how much of it is offered to us,we must begin to consider if it were not the nobler part to renounce it, and to put ourselves in primary relations with the soil and nature, and abstaining from whatever is dishonest and unclean, to take each of us bravely his part, with his own hands, in the manual labor of the world.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson (18031882)