Currently, there is resurgence in scholarship on Marxian conceptions of value. However, much of the discourse has remained within the realms of heterodox economics, political economy, and philosophy. I would like to set out a new line of inquiry, which shifts the aims of this research from the abstract and quantitative toward the concrete and qualitative. Following this line, we will investigate aspects of the Marxian conception of value in relation to the way capitalism actually functions. This entails combining detailed examinations of the real-world experiences of work with a value-[in]formed political economic critique of employment relations.
Marx’s theory of value gives us a tool for understanding the dynamic process of capitalist exploitation that overcomes the fragmentation of that experience. To quote Diane Elson:
What Marx’s theory of value does is provide a basis for showing the link between money relations and labour process relations in the process of exploitation. The process of exploitation is actually a unity; and the money relations and labour process relations which are experienced as two discretely distinct kinds of relation, are in fact onesided reflections of particular aspects of this unity. Neither money relations nor labour process relations in themselves constitute capitalist exploitation; and neither one can be changed very much without accompanying changes in the other… Marx’s theory of value is able to show this unity of money and labour process because it does not pose production and circulation as two separate, discretely distinct spheres and does not pose value and price as discretely distinct variables. (‘The Value theory of Labour’ in Value: The Representation of Labour in Capitalism: p. 172)
Through the use of a value-form analytic, scholars and activists alike will be able to develop novel political insights into contemporary relations of production and reproduction, as well as conceptualise emergent forms of work – from ‘services’ to creative industries.
Lines of inquiry might include:
- accounting for productive and unproductive labour
- the relations of concrete and abstract labour
- differential and absolute ground rent and labour
- the meaning of ‘services’ and ‘deindustrialisation’
- aesthetic/affective labour and value
- knowledge/intellectual labour and value
- the value-form and global value chains
- the value-form and the social construction of work
- the value-form and the labours of reproduction
- financialisation, value, and employment relations
The following is a working bibliography of articles and texts that I’ve found helpful in understanding Marxian conceptions of value in relation to work:
- Sungur Savran and E. Ahmet Tonak – Productive and Unproductive Labour: An Attempt at Clarification and Classification
- Sergio Cámara Izquierdo – A value-oriented distinction between productive and unproductive labour
- Simon Mohun – A re (in) statement of the labour theory of value
- Andrew Brown – A Materialist Development of Some Recent Contributions to the Labour Theory of Value
- Paul Thompson – The capitalist labour process: Concepts and connections
- Jörg Flecker and Pamela Meil – Organisational restructuring and emerging service value chains: implications for work and employment
- Fiona Tregenna – A new theoretical analysis of deindustrialisation
- Fiona Tregenna – What Does the ‘Services Sector’ Mean in Marxian Terms?
- Michael Heinrich – An Introduction to the Three Volumes of Karl Marx’s Capital
- Diane Elson [ed] – Value: The Representation of Labour in Capitalism
- Alfredo Saad Filho – The Value of Marx: Political Economy for Contemporary Capitalism
- Isaak Illich Rubin – Essays on Marx’s Theory of Value
- Anwar M. Shaikh and E. Ahmet Tonak – Measuring the Wealth of Nations The Political Economy of National Accounts
- Paul Dunne [ed.] – Quantitative Marxism
- David Spencer – The Political Economy of Work
- Andrew L. Friedman – Industry and Labour: Class Struggle at Work and Monopoly Capitalism
- Harry Braverman – Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century
- Paul Edwards – Industrial Relations: Theory and Practice
5 replies on “A research agenda for Marxian conceptions of value and the political economy of ‘service’ work”
Reblogged this on Radical Political Economy.
Reblogged this on Deterritorial Investigations Unit and commented:
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Reblogged this on jhon florian (Blog) and commented:
Congratulations! The capacity of this theory for explaining the capitalism consist in rewrite new intuitions about this sistem. Marx said “I am not marxist”, don’t follow all my words. In this sense, marxist is not about repeat ideas, it is about understand the method.
Reblogged this on those furious affections and commented:
Looks very interesting, and closely related to some work I have done.