The supply of labour by persons of either sex for the production and processing of all primary products (such as the characteristic products of agriculture, forestry, and fishing); the processing of primary commodities to produce such goods as flour, cheese, wine, cloth, or furniture, whether for the market, for barter, or for own consumption; and for the production of all other goods and services for the market. This broad definition ensures that the concept is applicable to statistics on market economies, command economies , mixed economies , and subsistence economies . It covers the production of goods and services normally intended for sale on the market, goods and services supplied by government agencies and the nonprofit sector, and certain types of production for own consumption (non-market production). In Western industrial societies, a much narrower definition is conventionally applied in official statistics -namely work for pay, profit, or family gain, within a specified reference-week-thus limiting the concept to work in the market economy, which is reflected in national economic accounts and gross national product. Employment can also be defined with reference to a person's usual activities rather than their current activities.
Sociologists frequently ignore these precise, and essentially economic definitions of employment (often termed economic activity by economists), in favour of the much more general notion of work , which has a different, wider meaning. Many disagreements and debates have their origin in a failure to distinguish clearly between work and employment. To make matters worse, work is regularly used as a synonym for paid employment or market work in everyday discourse, and in social science reports. Hence, for example, work-rates are synonymous with labour-force participation rates and economic activity rates in scientific (especially economic) papers. See also black economy ; household work strategy ; labour-market ; labour relations ; occupational segregation ; wage-labour.

Dictionary of sociology. 2013.

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