I would like to know if historians/economists/sociologists agree on the preconditions required for division of labour in ancient and/or earlier societies. Are there any common preconditions and historical developments concerning the process of an emerging civilized society with differentiated division of labour? Are there any examples of different ancient and earlier societies/tribes with strongly different developments leading toward division of labour, or highly different systems of it?
One may assume different factors and necessary conditions determining and furthering this process, my speculative reasoning would include factors and conditions like:
- social classes (as in Maya Civilization), you need someone to do tasks that no one wants to do (e.g. harvesting, building infrastructure, streets), a kind of social hierarchy, established by culture, laws (roman society), religion...or very cheap workers (slavery)
- settledness, marriage between different families to further interdependencies and trust between small groups, building a societal network and relatedness.
- social order of values, jurisdiction or at least commonly accepted authority like a priest or kind of police, or no one will do investments and specialize in his craft (worst case for example "peasant wars", which I would judge as an imbalance of division of labour)
- minimum level of craft, so you can make a living of it, your knowledge and craft cannot be easily substituted
- minimum population size (modern geography scientists mention minimum of 500-1000 habitants for a modern village, otherwise it's not economically sustainable, no shops, no physicians will settle down, not enough volunteers for fire brigade, of course this will be smaller for different ancient and earlier villages with less complex daily needs and economic output)
- redundancy, having only few weaver, alchemists, tinsmiths might be too risky to concentrate purely on your craft in smaller tribes
- (money or another "currency", probably a furthering, but not necessary factor)
Therefore I would assume that nomadic tribes cannot show very differentiated division of labour or huge potential for a differentiated social organization (this might be one place to start search).
You may say that animals show division of labour also, but I mean really a degree of division of labour where somebody has to rely on somebody else (e.g. producing enough food for the winter so he can concentrate on and specialize in his, e.g., carpenter/weaver work).
Which of these items (I probably missed some) are necessary to establish a lasting and growing in differentiation division of labour? I demand more than personal reasoning for an accepted answer, at least quotes of a historian, who compared several civilizations (Norbert Elias might be a hint, but I don't know his complete work), like, e.g., Maya, Egyptian and Roman Civilization (there might be better examples with more data).
Do historians agree on common preconditions for development of division of labour or are there different ways leading to such a state of society? Do we have an accurate picture of how differentiated ancient economies must have been or can we deduce from today's knowledge about division of labour how social and economical life in ancient economies must have been and was organized? I'm more interested to understand how a differentiated system of division of labour originates and evolves in smaller tribes. I assume it's a pretty continuous and self-organizing process, especially in pre-ancient societies, more driven by needs and chance than economical and political managment. Division of labour is (iin my opinion) the difference defining a un-/civilized society, and a im-/balance will often trigger societal/economical regress/progress and therefore social freedom and stability. Of course, an answer falsifying my speculative reasoning or playing the role of this economic view of societies down would also be acceptable by quoting some historians/sociologists. Surprise me ;) .