Definitions

# Work

[wurk]
Work, Hubert, 1860-1942, American cabinet officer, b. Marion Center, Pa. A practicing physician in Colorado, he became prominent in state and then in national Republican politics. He was Postmaster General (1922-23) under President Harding; then, after the exposure of Albert B. Fall in the Teapot Dome Scandal, succeeded him (1923) as Secretary of the Interior and reorganized the department. He resigned in 1928 and, as Republican national chairman (1928-29), managed Herbert Hoover's successful campaign for the presidency.
work, in physics and mechanics, transfer of energy by a force acting to displace a body. Work is equal to the product of the force and the distance through which it produces movement. Although both force and displacement are vector quantities, having both magnitude and direction, work is a scalar quantity, having only magnitude. If the force acts in a direction other than that of the motion of the body, then only that component of the force in the direction of the motion produces work. Thus when a 5-lb (22.4-newton) force pulls a body 10 ft (3 m), it does 50 foot-pounds (67.2 meter-newtons) of work. If a force acts on a body constrained to remain stationary, no work is done by the force. Even if the body is in motion, the force must have a component in the direction of motion. Thus, any centripetal force, such as the sun's gravitational pull on the earth, does no work because it acts at right angles to the motion and has no component in that direction (see centripetal force and centrifugal force). When there is no friction and a force acts on a body, the work done by the force is equal to the increase of the kinetic and potential energy of the body, since all the energy expended by the agency exerting the force must be gained by the body. If frictional forces are present, then some of the work must go to overcome friction and appears finally in the form of heat energy. A simple machine is a device for converting work into another form of energy. For example the jackscrew converts an input of work done on the machine to raise the load. The efficiency of a machine, which is defined as the ratio of the work output to the work input, is always less than one, since some of the input is invariably wasted in overcoming friction. The element of time does not enter into the computation of work; the time rate of doing work is called power. One horsepower is an expenditure of 33,000 foot-pounds per minute. Some of the units used to measure work are the foot-pound, the erg, and the joule.

Semiskilled or unskilled workers who move from one region to another, offering their services on a temporary, usually seasonal, basis. In North America, migrant labour is generally employed in agriculture and moves seasonally from south to north following the harvest. In Europe and the Middle East, migrant labour usually involves urban rather than agricultural employment and calls for longer periods of residence. The migrant labour market is often disorganized and exploitative. Many workers are supervised by middlemen such as labour contractors and crew leaders, who recruit and transport them and dispense their pay. Labourers commonly endure long hours, low wages, poor working conditions, and substandard housing. In some countries, child labour is widespread among migrant labourers, and even in the U.S. those children who do not work often do not go to school, since schools are usually open only to local residents. Workers willing to accept employment on these terms are usually driven by even worse conditions in their home countries. Labour organizing is made difficult by mobility and by low rates of literacy and political participation, though some migrant labourers in the U.S. have been unionized. Seealso Cesar Chavez.

Association of workers in a particular trade, industry, or plant, formed to obtain improvements in pay, benefits, and working conditions through collective action. The first fraternal and self-help associations of labourers appeared in Britain in the 18th century, and the era of modern labour unions began in Britain, Europe, and the U.S. in the 19th century. The movement met with hostility from employers and governments, and union organizers were regularly prosecuted. British unionism received its legal foundation in the Trade-Union Act of 1871. In the U.S. the same effect was achieved more slowly through a series of court decisions that whittled away at the use of injunctions and conspiracy laws against unions. The founding of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1886 marked the beginning of a successful, large-scale labour movement in the U.S. The unions brought together in the AFL were craft unions, which represented workers skilled in a particular craft or trade. Only a few early labour organizers argued in favour of industrial unions, which would represent all workers, skilled or unskilled, in a single industry. The Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) was founded by unions expelled from the AFL for attempting to organize unskilled workers, and by 1941 it had assured the success of industrial unionism by organizing the steel and automotive industries (see AFL-CIO). The use of collective bargaining to settle wages, working conditions, and disputes is standard in all noncommunist industrial countries, though union organization varies from country to country. In Britain, labour unions displayed a strong inclination to political activity that culminated in the formation of the Labour Party in 1906. In France, too, the major unions became highly politicized; the Confédération Générale du Travail (formed in 1895) was allied with the Communist Party for many years, while the Confédération Française Démocratique du Travail is more moderate politically. Japan developed a form of union organization known as enterprise unionism, which represents workers in a single plant or multiplant enterprise rather than within a craft or industry.

Body of law that applies to matters such as employment, wages, conditions of work, labour unions, and labour-management relations. Laws intended to protect workers, including children, from abusive employment practices were not enacted in significant numbers until the late 19th century in Europe and slightly later in the U.S. In Asia and Africa, labour legislation did not emerge until the 1940s and '50s. Employment laws cover matters such as hiring, training, advancement, and unemployment compensation. Wage laws cover the forms and methods of payment, pay rates, social security, pensions, and other matters. Legislation on working conditions regulates hours, rest periods, vacations, child labour, equality in the workplace, and health and safety. Laws on trade unions and labour-management relations address the status of unions, the rights and obligations of workers' and employers' organizations, collective bargaining agreements, and rules for settling strikes and other disputes. Seealso arbitration; mediation.

Study of how workers are allocated among jobs, how their rates of pay are determined, and how their efficiency is affected by various factors. The labour force of a country includes all those who work for gain in any capacity as well as those who are unemployed but seeking work. Many factors influence how workers are utilized and how much they are paid, including qualities of the labour force itself (such as health, level of education, distribution of special training and skills, and degree of mobility), structural characteristics of the economy (e.g., proportions of heavy manufacturing, technology, and service industries), and institutional factors (including the extent and power of labour unions and employers' associations and the presence of minimum-wage laws). Miscellaneous factors such as custom and variations in the business cycle are also considered. Certain general trends are widely accepted by labour economists; for instance, wage levels tend to be higher in jobs that involve high risk, in industries that require higher levels of education or training, in economies that have high proportions of such industries, and in industries that are heavily unionized.

In economics, the general body of wage earners. In classical economics, labour is one of the three factors of production, along with capital and land. Labour can also be used to describe work performed, including any valuable service rendered by a human agent in the production of wealth, other than accumulating and providing capital. Labour is performed for the sake of its product or, in modern economic life, for the sake of a share of the aggregate product of the community's industry. The price per unit of time, or wage rate, commanded by a particular kind of labour in the market depends on a number of variables, such as the technical efficiency of the worker, the demand for that person's particular skills, and the supply of similarly skilled workers. Other variables include training, experience, intelligence, social status, prospects for advancement, and relative difficulty of the work. All these factors make it impossible for economists to assign a standard value to labour. Instead, economists often quantify labour hours according to the quantity and value of the goods or services produced.

Specialization in the production process. Complex jobs can usually be less expensively completed by a large number of people each performing a small number of specialized tasks than by one person attempting to complete the entire job. The idea that specialization reduces costs, and thereby the price the consumer pays, is embedded in the principle of comparative advantage. Division of labour is the basic principle underlying the assembly line in mass production systems. See Émile Durkheim.

Employment of boys and girls in occupations deemed unfit for children. Such labour is strictly controlled in many countries as a result of the effective enforcement of laws passed in the 20th century (e.g., the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959). In developing nations the use of child labour is still common. Restrictive legislation has proved ineffective in impoverished societies with few schools, although some improvements have resulted from global activism, such as boycotts of multinational firms alleged to be exploiting child labour abroad.

Value attached to hard work, thrift, and self-discipline under certain Protestant doctrines, particularly those of Calvinism. Max Weber, in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1904–05), held that the Protestant ethic was an important factor in the economic success of Protestant groups in the early stages of European capitalism, in that worldly success came to be interpreted as a sign of the individual's election to eternal salvation. Weber's thesis was variously criticized and expanded throughout the 20th century. Seealso Protestantism; Richard H. Tawney.

In physics, the measure of energy transfer that occurs when an object is moved over a distance by an external force, some component of which is applied in the direction of displacement. For a constant force, work math.W is equal to the magnitude of the force math.F times the displacement math.d of the object, or math.W = math.Fmath.d. Work is also done by compressing a gas, by rotating a shaft, and by causing invisible motions of particles within a body by an external magnetic force. No work is accomplished by simply holding a heavy stationary object, because there is no transfer of energy and no displacement. Work done on a body is equal to the increase in energy of the body. Work is expressed in units called joules (J). One joule is equivalent to the energy transferred when a force of one newton is applied over a distance of one metre.

or muqarnas

Honeycomb-like Islamic architectural ornamentation formed by the intricate corbeling (see corbel) of squinches (see Byzantine architecture), brackets, and inverted pyramids in overlapping tiers. It appeared in the early 12th century throughout the Islamic world; a frequent use was to overlay the transitional zone between domes and their supports. It reached its highest development in the 14th–15th century, when it became the usual decoration for door heads, niches, and the bracketing under cornices and minaret galleries. Rich examples are found in the Alhambra and other Moorish works in Spain.

also called social work

Any of various professional activities or methods concerned with providing social services (such as investigatory and treatment services or material aid) to disadvantaged, distressed, or vulnerable persons or groups. The field originated in the charity organizations in Europe and the U.S. in the late 19th century. The training of volunteer workers by these organizations led directly to the founding of the first schools of social work and indirectly to increased government responsibility for the welfare of the disadvantaged. Social service providers may serve the needs of children and families, the poor or homeless, immigrants, veterans, the mentally ill, the handicapped, victims of rape or domestic violence, and persons dependent on alcohol or drugs. Seealso welfare.

In the U.S., any state law forbidding various union-security measures, particularly the union shop, under which workers are required to join a union within a specified time after they begin employment. Supporters of such laws maintain that they are more equitable because they allow a person to choose whether or not to join a labour union. Opponents contend that the name right-to-work law is misleading because such laws do not guarantee employment to anyone. On the contrary, they maintain that such laws tend to reduce workers' job security by weakening the bargaining power of unions.

Type of embroidery in which the stitches are counted and worked with a needle over the threads, or mesh, of a canvas foundation. It was known as canvas work until the early 19th century. If the canvas has 16 or more mesh holes per linear inch, the embroidery is called petit point; most needlepoint was petit point in the 16th–18th century. Needlepoint as it is known today originated in the 17th century, when the fashion for furniture upholstered with embroidered fabrics prompted the development of a more durable material to serve as the embroidery's foundation. Wool is generally used for needlepoint, silk yarn less often. Needlepoint kits, containing canvas stamped with a design and all the materials needed for the project, were sold as early as the mid-18th century. Seealso bargello.

Type of decorative inlay or mosaic used by Roman decorators and architects in the 12th–13th centuries. Small pieces of coloured stone and glass were combined with strips and disks of white marble arranged in geometric patterns. Cosmati work was used for architectural decoration and church furnishings. The term derives from craftsmen of several families named Cosmatus.