What Is Economics? What Role Does the Division of Labour Play in Defining This Subject Matter?

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What is the subject matter of economics? What role does the “division of labour” play in defining this subject matter?

Quoting Michael Yates, “The subject matter of economics is the production and distribution of output…” (Yates, 2003). So what does this say to me? Simplifying, this says to me that Economics is a way of explaining the world. With studies dating as far back as Aristotle’s interest in the various forms of state, how can one ever fully understand the complexities of economic thought and how could one definition ever sum up the entirety of what economists endeavour to understand? (Meikle, Scott, 1995) The study of economics attempts to understand and to explain how and why the wealth of the world is produced,
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The ‘labourer’ who accumulates the most wealth has the most influence over the means of production. This labourer, once they own the means of production and are able to determine what is produced and the method of production comes to be termed a ‘capitalist’. A capitalist makes no secret that goods will not be produced and dollars will not be invested in production capital, regardless of people’s needs, because production decisions in a capitalist economy are based primarily on profit (Hunt & Sherman, 1986). This capitalist, and the wealth they accumulate, also has significant influence over the political economy that sets the stage for capitalism to continue to thrive and to encourage capitalist accumulation and further the deepening of the division of labour. It is in this way that capitalism and the division of labour drives our production economy and influences the global markets and the modern subject matter of economics.


Yates, Michael, 2003: “Naming the System. Inequality and Work in the Global Economy”: p13

Hunk, E.K., & Sherman, H.J., 1986: “Economics: An Introduction to traditional and radical views” (LBST330 Chapter 12, “Keynesian Economics and the Great Depression” p.154

Smith, Adam, 1776: “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of The Wealth of Nations” Book 1, Chapter 1

Hunk, E.K., & Sherman, H.J., 1986: “Economics: An Introduction to traditional and


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