PSAT Critical Reading : Making Inferences About the Author or Social Science / History Passage Content

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Critical Reading

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Making Inferences And Predictions In History Passages

Adapted from “Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions” by Elizabeth Cady Stanton; Lucretia Mott; and others (1848)

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men and women are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it, and to insist upon the institution of a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their duty to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of women under this government, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to demand the equal station to which they are entitled.

Which of these statements would the author of this passage NOT agree with?

Possible Answers:

All men and women are created equal.

Men and women have equal rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

It is the right of the people to overthrow despotism.

It is prudent to overthrow any unsatisfactory government.

Women have suffered under the governance of men.

Correct answer:

It is prudent to overthrow any unsatisfactory government.

Explanation:

The author of this passage makes explicit reference to her belief in the equality of men and women so you can rule out several of the possible answer choices that would contradict this belief. Likewise the author mentions that “the patient sufferance of women under this government.” So the author would obviously agree that women have suffered under the governance of men. Finally, the author clearly states that “Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of those who suffer from it to refuse allegiance to it.” The only possible answer choice is that the author would not agree with the statement that “It is prudent to overthrow any dissatisfactory government.” Instead, the author specifically states that it is not prudent to overthrow any and all dissatisfactory governments, only those that have become so unbearable in their abuses.

Example Question #12 : Making Inferences About The Author Or Social Science / History Passage Content

"Goffman's Theory of Institutions" by Joseph Ritchie (2014)

Sociological inquiry often investigates members of society considered to be on its outer edges. These individuals often live in precarious and vulnerable situations. Traditionally, sociologists have studied these groups to gain insight into the lives of people who are forgotten victims of the blind eye of society. In 1961, Erving Goffman published the book Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates. This book outlined the theory of a total institution as seen in prisons and asylums. Goffman’s interests and theory helped to reveal the inner mechanics of asylums and the process of institutionalization that takes place within a total institution.

According to Goffman’s observations and subsequent theories, a total institution seeks to erode the relationships of an individual with the outside world and consume their personal identities and daily activities. The end goal of a total institution is to break down and deconstruct the barriers that separate the spheres of sleep, play, and work in an individual’s life by conducting all of these aspects of life in the same location under the same authority. In these institutions, Goffman stated that there is an intentional divide between a large, managed group and a supervisor, which often results in feelings of submissiveness and reluctance to leave the institutionalized setting on the part of the “inmates.” This suggests that these restrictive environments lead to the institutionalization of an individual into the group and away from his or her previous, independent life. In these structures, an individual’s admission procedures shape and engineer the new member in what may be described as a process of programming. This programming of an individual is characterized by a “leaving off” of one’s identity and a “taking on” of one supplied by the establishment. Members of these establishments are alienated from their previous lives and encircled by the ideals and principals of the new institution. A prolonged exposure to similar institutions results in a phenomenon known as "disculturation," which is an un-training that renders an individual temporarily incapable of managing certain features of daily life outside the structures of the institutions.

Sociologists often study groups forgotten or ignored by society. Goffman’s work illuminated issues with vulnerable populations at asylums and other institutions. Ethnographic field studies have continued this tradition and in doing so have theorized the causes of many of society’s ills. Goffman’s work is just one example of sociology’s ability to delve into an understudied region of society, propose explanations of issues, and theorize possible avenues of reform.

Ethnographic researchers often study which of the following populations?

Possible Answers:

Populations on the edge of society

The mentally ill

Prison populations

Gang members

Ethnographic researchers most often study a population that is not listed as one of the other answer choices.

Correct answer:

Populations on the edge of society

Explanation:

Ethnographic researchers often observe populations that society has ignored. All of the other choices are examples of groups on the outer rim of society; however, ethnographic research is not limited to one of these groups.

Example Question #21 : Making Inferences About The Author Or Social Science / History Passage Content

"Goffman's Theory of Institutions" by Joseph Ritchie (2014)

Sociological inquiry often investigates members of society considered to be on its outer edges. These individuals often live in precarious and vulnerable situations. Traditionally, sociologists have studied these groups to gain insight into the lives of people who are forgotten victims of the blind eye of society. In 1961, Erving Goffman published the book Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates. This book outlined the theory of a total institution as seen in prisons and asylums. Goffman’s interests and theory helped to reveal the inner mechanics of asylums and the process of institutionalization that takes place within a total institution.

According to Goffman’s observations and subsequent theories, a total institution seeks to erode the relationships of an individual with the outside world and consume their personal identities and daily activities. The end goal of a total institution is to break down and deconstruct the barriers that separate the spheres of sleep, play, and work in an individual’s life by conducting all of these aspects of life in the same location under the same authority. In these institutions, Goffman stated that there is an intentional divide between a large, managed group and a supervisor, which often results in feelings of submissiveness and reluctance to leave the institutionalized setting on the part of the “inmates.” This suggests that these restrictive environments lead to the institutionalization of an individual into the group and away from his or her previous, independent life. In these structures, an individual’s admission procedures shape and engineer the new member in what may be described as a process of programming. This programming of an individual is characterized by a “leaving off” of one’s identity and a “taking on” of one supplied by the establishment. Members of these establishments are alienated from their previous lives and encircled by the ideals and principals of the new institution. A prolonged exposure to similar institutions results in a phenomenon known as "disculturation," which is an un-training that renders an individual temporarily incapable of managing certain features of daily life outside the structures of the institutions.

Sociologists often study groups forgotten or ignored by society. Goffman’s work illuminated issues with vulnerable populations at asylums and other institutions. Ethnographic field studies have continued this tradition and in doing so have theorized the causes of many of society’s ills. Goffman’s work is just one example of sociology’s ability to delve into an understudied region of society, propose explanations of issues, and theorize possible avenues of reform.

Goffman described entry into institutions as a series of mortifying experiences that stripped the individual of their identity and provided them with the identity of the institution. Which if the following are examples of identity replacement in a total institution?

Possible Answers:

All of the choices are examples of identity replacement.

The shaving and delousing of an individual's head when entering the institution

Giving an individual a number rather than referring to them by their birth name

The stripping of an individual's clothes and personal effects to be replaced with the uniform of the institution

Giving an individual a new name rather than referring to them by their birth name

Correct answer:

All of the choices are examples of identity replacement.

Explanation:

All of the choices are forms of identity replacement. Total institutions such as the asylums Goffman observed strip individuals of their identities as they enter the institution. The choices were all examples of experiences that Goffman noted in his research. The institution completed each activity in the name of efficiency and necessity; however, in the process, they stripped the members of their identities and gave them the identity of the asylum.

Example Question #11 : Extrapolating From The Text In Social Science / History Passages

"Goffman's Theory of Institutions" by Joseph Ritchie (2014)

Sociological inquiry often investigates members of society considered to be on its outer edges. These individuals often live in precarious and vulnerable situations. Traditionally, sociologists have studied these groups to gain insight into the lives of people who are forgotten victims of the blind eye of society. In 1961, Erving Goffman published the book Asylums: Essays on the Social Situation of Mental Patients and Other Inmates. This book outlined the theory of a total institution as seen in prisons and asylums. Goffman’s interests and theory helped to reveal the inner mechanics of asylums and the process of institutionalization that takes place within a total institution.

According to Goffman’s observations and subsequent theories, a total institution seeks to erode the relationships of an individual with the outside world and consume their personal identities and daily activities. The end goal of a total institution is to break down and deconstruct the barriers that separate the spheres of sleep, play, and work in an individual’s life by conducting all of these aspects of life in the same location under the same authority. In these institutions, Goffman stated that there is an intentional divide between a large, managed group and a supervisor, which often results in feelings of submissiveness and reluctance to leave the institutionalized setting on the part of the “inmates.” This suggests that these restrictive environments lead to the institutionalization of an individual into the group and away from his or her previous, independent life. In these structures, an individual’s admission procedures shape and engineer the new member in what may be described as a process of programming. This programming of an individual is characterized by a “leaving off” of one’s identity and a “taking on” of one supplied by the establishment. Members of these establishments are alienated from their previous lives and encircled by the ideals and principals of the new institution. A prolonged exposure to similar institutions results in a phenomenon known as "disculturation," which is an un-training that renders an individual temporarily incapable of managing certain features of daily life outside the structures of the institutions.

Sociologists often study groups forgotten or ignored by society. Goffman’s work illuminated issues with vulnerable populations at asylums and other institutions. Ethnographic field studies have continued this tradition and in doing so have theorized the causes of many of society’s ills. Goffman’s work is just one example of sociology’s ability to delve into an understudied region of society, propose explanations of issues, and theorize possible avenues of reform.

Is there a divide between the supervisors and other individuals in a total institution?

Possible Answers:

Yes, there is an unintentional divide between the members of a total institution.

None of the choices are correct.

No, there is no divide between the members of a total institution.

Yes, there is an intentional divide between members of a total institution.

Total institutions cannot by definition involve divides between any of their members.

Correct answer:

Yes, there is an intentional divide between members of a total institution.

Explanation:

Yes, there is an intentional divide between members of the institution. The formation of a hierarchy is one of the main components of a total institution. In the second paragraph of the passage, it is stated that there is an intentional divide between supervisors and other members of the community. This is done so that a ruling group can dictate the activities of a subordinate group and deconstruct the ties that group has with society.

Example Question #1 : Inference About The Author

Adapted from “Introductory Remarks” in The Interpretation of Dreams by Sigmund Freud (trans. 1913)

In attempting to discuss the interpretation of dreams, I do not believe that I have overstepped the bounds of neuropathological interest. For, when investigated psychologically, the dream proves to be the first link in a chain of abnormal psychic structures whose other links—the hysterical phobia, the obsession, and the delusion—must interest the physician for practical reasons. The dream can lay no claim to a corresponding practical significance; however, its theoretical value is very great, and one who cannot explain the origin of the content of dreams will strive in vain to understand phobias, obsessive and delusional ideas, and likewise their therapeutic importance.

While this relationship makes our subject important, it is responsible also for the deficiencies in this work. The surfaces of fracture, which will be frequently discussed, correspond to many points of contact where the problem of dream formation informs more comprehensive problems of psychopathology which cannot be discussed here. These larger issues will be elaborated upon in the future.

Peculiarities in the material I have used to elucidate the interpretation of dreams have rendered this publication difficult. The work itself will demonstrate why all dreams related in scientific literature or collected by others had to remain useless for my purpose. In choosing my examples, I had to limit myself to considering my own dreams and those of my patients who were under psychoanalytic treatment. I was restrained from utilizing material derived from my patients' dreams by the fact that during their treatment, the dream processes were subjected to an undesirable complication—the intermixture of neurotic characters. On the other hand, in discussing my own dreams, I was obliged to expose more of the intimacies of my psychic life than I should like, more so than generally falls to the task of an author who is not a poet but an investigator of nature. This was painful, but unavoidable; I had to put up with the inevitable in order to demonstrate the truth of my psychological results at all. To be sure, I disguised some of my indiscretions through omissions and substitutions, though I feel that these detract from the value of the examples in which they appear. I can only express the hope that the reader of this work, putting himself in my difficult position, will show patience, and also that anyone inclined to take offense at any of the reported dreams will concede freedom of thought at least to the dream life.

Based on what is stated in the passage, one can infer that the author __________.

Possible Answers:

is famous

is unable to make sense of his own dreams

is participating in a tradition of studying dreams in a psychological light

is not himself a psychologist

believes himself to have no “intermixture of neurotic characters” 

Correct answer:

believes himself to have no “intermixture of neurotic characters” 

Explanation:

When answering this question, it is important to rely only on information presented in the passage and not bring in anything you may know about Freud. You may have heard of Freud, and might assume that the answer has to be “is famous,” but nothing in the passage suggests that Freud is famous, so this cannot be the correct answer. The way in which the author justifies his work in the first paragraph suggests that this is the first study of its kind, instead of part of a tradition of studying dreams in a psychological light; this is particularly visible when the author begins by stating, “In attempting to discuss the interpretation of dreams, I do not believe that I have overstepped the bounds of neuropathological interest. For, when investigated psychologically, the dream proves to be the first link in a chain of abnormal psychic structures.” In the third paragraph, the author refers to using the dreams of “[his] patients who were under psychoanalytic treatment,” so we cannot assume that he “is not himself a psychologist,” as he seems to be one. The author included his own dreams in the study, so we can infer that he can make some sense of them; this allows us to discard the answer choice “is unable to make sense of his own dreams.” This leaves us with the correct answer, “believes himself to have no ‘intermixture of neurotic characters’.” You could also arrive at this answer by considering how, in the third paragraph, the author writes, “I was restrained from utilizing material derived from my patients' dreams by the fact that during their treatment, the dream processes were subjected to an undesirable complication—the intermixture of neurotic characters.” He then goes on to say that when discussing his own dreams, he “was obliged to expose more of the intimacies of [his] psychic life than [he] should like.” The fact that he constrains the perceived “intermixture of neurotic characters” to his patients in this way and addresses a different reason why he didn’t want to discuss his own dreams supports the idea that he believes himself to have no “intermixture of neurotic characters.”

Example Question #12 : Drawing Inferences From Social Science Or History Passages

Adapted from The Destructive Male (1868) by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony

The male element is a destructive force, stern, selfish, aggrandizing, loving war, violence, conquest, acquisition, breeding in the material and moral world alike discord, disorder, disease, and death. See what a record of blood and cruelty the pages of history reveal! Through what slavery, slaughter, and sacrifice, through what inquisitions and imprisonments, pains and persecutions, black codes and gloomy creeds, the soul of humanity has struggled for the centuries, while mercy has veiled her face and all hearts have been dead alike to love and hope!

The male element has held high carnival thus far; it has fairly run riot from the beginning, overpowering the feminine element everywhere, crushing out all the diviner qualities in human nature, until we know but little of true manhood and womanhood, of the latter comparatively nothing, for it has scarce been recognized as a power until within the last century. Society is but the reflection of man himself, not tempered by woman's thought; the hard iron rule we feel alike in the church, the state, and the home. No one need wonder at the disorganization, at the fragmentary condition of everything, when we remember that man, who represents but half a complete being, with but half an idea on every subject, has undertaken the absolute control of all sublunary matters.

People object to the demands of those whom they choose to call the strong-minded, because they say "the right of suffrage will make the women masculine." That is just the difficulty in which we are involved today. Though disfranchised, we have few women in the best sense; we have simply so many reflections, varieties, and dilutions of the masculine gender. The strong, natural characteristics of womanhood are repressed and ignored in dependence, for so long as man feeds woman she will try to please the giver and adapt herself to his condition.

From the whole of this passage it can be inferred that the “diviner qualities” of mankind are exhibited in __________.

Possible Answers:

all women 

American women 

white men 

European women 

all men 

Correct answer:

all women 

Explanation:

From the whole passage you could likely infer that the “diviner qualities” of mankind would not be exhibited in men. This suggests that the author feels they are exhibited in all women. This answer choice is supported by the author when she claims that “The male element has held high carnival thus far; it has fairly run riot from the beginning, overpowering the feminine element everywhere, crushing out all the diviner qualities in human nature.”

Example Question #561 : Sat Critical Reading

While the Gutenberg press was perhaps one of the greatest inventions of all time, we should not let its importance blind us to other very important events in the history of linguistic development. Granted, the efficiency of printing allowed for the dissemination of much learning in Europe. Still, such printing was not unique to Europe, and even in the scope of world history, there are several events that are equally as miraculous regarding the transmission of knowledge.

For instance, most people overlook the amazing nature of the first time that human beings communicated with spoken language. Perhaps there were simple signs by which these early humans could indicate their needs to each other; however, when the first event of person-to-person speech occurred, it was far more marvelous than simple practical communication. Such speech was like a sharing in ideas. When true speech happened, persons were able to communicate knowledge to each other, freeing it from its isolation in one lonely person. By means of such speech, knowledge could be orally transmitted from generation to generation, thus preserving wisdom in a way that is completely impossible without speech.

Of course, such spoken tradition is very fragile, relying on memories and stories that are passed down from generation to generation. For this reason, the invention of writing is extremely important. In contrast to the spoken word, the written word can continue to exist and be useful so long as it can be read intelligently. Likewise, much more can be recorded than ever could be remembered by someone with the best of memories. Indeed, once these records are written, copies can be sent to anyone who is able to read the language in question. Just so, it can be translated into written copies to be read by others. For these (as well as many other reasons) the invention of writing was a very significant event in history, greatly expanding the possibilities for the exchange of knowledge.

Thus, the printing press is quite important, but it is part of a larger story. Like both spoken and written communication, it allows human beings to communicate knowledge not only to each other but also across multiple generations. Often, we think of the press merely in its ability to provide a great number of books in a short period of time; however, when considered as a chapter in this longer tale, it likewise appears as the means by which humanity is able to conquer time by allowing the knowledge of today to live for multiple generations.

What does the author imply about the audience reading this passage?

Possible Answers:

That they have long given into stereotypes about history and have thus misjudged much of the past

That they are wholly ignorant of factual history and misunderstand the meaning of communication

That they overestimate the power of the spoken word, forgetting how fragile it is in reality

That they tend to focus too much on one event in linguistic development, accidentally ignoring others

That they need more information about the nature of speech and its physiological development

Correct answer:

That they tend to focus too much on one event in linguistic development, accidentally ignoring others

Explanation:

The best thing to do in answering this question is to pay attention to the author's tone.  In particular, note the uses of the word "us" and the word "we."

(1) We should not let its importance blind us to other very important events in the history of linguistic development.

(2) Often, we think of the press merely in its ability to provide a great number of books in a short period of time; however, when considered as a chapter in this longer tale, it likewise appears as the means by which humanity is able to conquer time by allowing the knowledge of today to live for multiple generations.

Clearly the author wishes to fix an historical misunderstanding, but it does not appear that the audience is judged to be completely ignorant. The author wishes to show that there are other important events in linguistic development. Likewise, knowledge of this history helps us to understand the meaning of the printing press in a fuller manner.

Example Question #1 : Making Inferences About The Author Or Social Science / History Passage Content

Adapted from Emancipation of the Working Class by Eugene Debs (1918)

Our plutocracy, our Junkers, would have us believe that all the Junkers are confined to Germany. It is precisely because we refuse to believe this that they brand us as disloyal. They want our eyes focused on the Junkers in Berlin so that we will not see those within our own borders. I hate, I loathe, I despise Junkers and junkerdom. I have no earthly use for the Junkers of Germany, and not one particle more use for the Junkers in the United States. They tell us that we live in a great free republic; that our institutions are democratic; that we are a free and self-governing people. This is too much, even for a joke. But it is not a subject for levity; it is an exceedingly serious matter.

To whom do the Wall Street Junkers in our country marry their daughters? After they have wrung their countless millions from your sweat, your agony and your life's blood, in a time of war as in a time of peace, they invest these untold millions in the purchase of titles of broken-down aristocrats, such as princes, dukes, counts and other parasites and no-accounts. Would they be satisfied to wed their daughters to honest workingmen? To real democrats? Oh, no! They scour the markets of Europe for vampires who are titled and nothing else. And they swap their millions for the titles, so that matrimony with them becomes literally a matter of money.

These are the gentry who are today wrapped up in the American flag, who shout their claim from the housetops that they are the only patriots, and who have their magnifying glasses in hand, scanning the country for evidence of disloyalty, eager to apply the brand of treason to the men who dare to even whisper their opposition to Junker rule in the United Sates. No wonder Sam Johnson declared that "patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel." He must have had this Wall Street gentry in mind, or at least their prototypes, for in every age it has been the tyrant, the oppressor and the exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism, or religion, or both to deceive and overawe the people.

Which of the following statements would the author of this passage most likely NOT agree with?

Possible Answers:

The common man is subject to manipulation from the ruling classes.

Communism is a better economic system than Capitalism.

American society is free of the abuses apparent in German society.

Wall Street bankers abuse the working classes to make their money.

Patriotism is often used as a tool of subjugation by the ruling classes.

Correct answer:

American society is free of the abuses apparent in German society.

Explanation:

The author of this passage would agree with all of those statements except that American society is free of the abuses found in German society. That the author would disagree with this statement is found in the opening sentences, where the author states “Our plutocracy, our Junkers, would have us believe that all the Junkers are confined to Germany. It is precisely because we refuse to believe this that they brand us as disloyal. They want our eyes focused on the Junkers in Berlin so that we will not see those within our own borders.” Here the author specifically identifies how the wealthy ruling classes are trying to deceive the American people into believing the economic injustices found in Germany are not found in America. It is clear from the author’s implication that he feels America society is subject to the same abuses found in German society.  

Example Question #251 : Social Science / History Passages

Adapted from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft (1792)

In the middle rank of life, to continue the comparison, men, in their youth, are prepared for professions, and marriage is not considered as the grand feature in their lives; whilst women, on the contrary, have no other scheme to sharpen their faculties. It is not business, extensive plans, or any of the excursive flights of ambition, that engross their attention; no, their thoughts are not employed in rearing such noble structures. To rise in the world, and have the liberty of running from pleasure to pleasure, they must marry advantageously, and to this object their time is sacrificed, and their persons often legally prostituted. A man when he enters any profession has his eye steadily fixed on some future advantage (and the mind gains great strength by having all its efforts directed to one point) and, full of his business, pleasure is considered as mere relaxation; whilst women seek for pleasure as the main purpose of existence. In fact, from the education, which they receive from society, the love of pleasure may be said to govern them all; but does this prove that there is a sex in souls? It would be just as rational to declare that the courtiers in France, when a destructive system of despotism had formed their character, were not men, because liberty, virtue, and humanity, were sacrificed to pleasure and vanity.—Fatal passions, which have ever domineered over the whole race!

The same love of pleasure, fostered by the whole tendency of their education, gives a trifling turn to the conduct of women in most circumstances: for instance, they are ever anxious about secondary things; and on the watch for adventures, instead of being occupied by duties.

A man, when he undertakes a journey, has, in general, the end in view; a woman thinks more of the incidental occurrences, the strange things that may possibly occur on the road; the impression that she may make on her fellow travelers; and, above all, she is anxiously intent on the care of the finery that she carries with her, which is more than ever a part of herself, when going to figure on a new scene; when, to use an apt French turn of expression, she is going to produce a sensation.—Can dignity of mind exist with such trivial cares? This observation should not be confined to the fair sex; however, at present, I only mean to apply it to them.

Which of the following statements about the author’s attitude toward marriage is supported by the passage?

Possible Answers:

It is an outdated institution.

It should be wholly supported by society.

It is the cause of misery for numerous people.

It is the only possible form of advancement for females.

It is virtually a business.

Correct answer:

It is the only possible form of advancement for females.

Explanation:

The author makes a comparison between marriage and business, and also asserts that it can be like a form of “prostitution.” However, the main argument of the first paragraph is that women are held back by marriage as it is their only opportunity to sharpen their minds or advance financially. You could infer that the other two statements are correct, but they are not overtly stated by the author.

Example Question #1 : Extrapolating From The Text In Mixed Passages

Adapted from The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith (1776)

The greatest improvements in the productive powers of labor, and the greater part of the skill, dexterity, and judgment with which it is anywhere directed or applied, seem to have been the effects of the division of labor. The effects of the division of labor, in the general business of society, will be more easily understood by considering in what manner it operates in some particular manufactures. It is commonly supposed to be carried furthest in some very trifling ones; not perhaps that it really is carried further in them than in others of more importance, but in those trifling manufactures that are destined to supply the small wants of but a small number of people, the whole number of workmen must necessarily be small; and those employed in every different branch of the work can often be collected into the same workhouse, and placed at once under the view of the spectator.

In those great manufactures, on the contrary, which are destined to supply the great wants of the great body of the people, every different branch of the work employs so great a number of workmen that it is impossible to collect them all into the same workhouse. We can seldom see more, at one time, than those employed in one single branch. Though in such manufactures, therefore, the work may really be divided into a much greater number of parts, than in those of a more trifling nature, the division is not near so obvious, and has accordingly been much less observed.

To take an example, therefore, from a very trifling manufacture, but one in which the division of labor has been very often taken notice of: the trade of a pin-maker. A workman not educated to this business (which the division of labor has rendered a distinct trade), nor acquainted with the use of the machinery employed in it (to the invention of which the same division of labor has probably given occasion), could scarce, perhaps, with his utmost industry, make one pin in a day, and certainly could not make twenty. But in the way in which this business is now carried on, not only the whole work is a peculiar trade, but it is divided into a number of branches, of which the greater part are likewise peculiar trades. One man draws out the wire; another straights it; a third cuts it; a fourth points it; a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head; to make the head requires two or three distinct operations; to put it on is a peculiar business; to whiten the pins is another; it is even a trade by itself to put them into the paper; and the important business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations, which, in some manufactories, are all performed by distinct hands, though in others the same man will sometimes perform two or three of them.

In every other art and manufacture, the effects of the division of labour are similar to what they are in this very trifling one; though, in many of them, the labour can neither be so much subdivided, nor reduced to so great a simplicity of operation. The division of labour, however, so far as it can be introduced, occasions, in every art, a proportionable increase of the productive powers of labour. The separation of different trades and employments from one another, seems to have taken place, in consequence of this advantage.

Based on the passage, what can we infer about the trade of pin-making?

Possible Answers:

Other writers have considered it in light of the division of labor.

One man alone can produce as many pins as he likely needs.

It is considered an outdated industry.

Producing pins at a great rate requires very little initial investment.

Correct answer:

Other writers have considered it in light of the division of labor.

Explanation:

The author only begins to discuss pin-making in the third paragraph, so we can focus on that paragraph in looking for the answer to this question. The answer is made apparent by the paragraph’s first sentence, “To take an example, therefore, from a very trifling manufacture, but one in which the division of labor has been very often taken notice of: the trade of a pin-maker.” The author here describes pin-making as a “manufacture . . . in which the division of labor has been very often taken notice of.” This allows us to infer that other writers have considered the trade of pin-making in light of the division of labor. 

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