Marx develops two different theories of the employment contract. According to the first, it is an agreement for the sale of a commodity whereby the worker cedes a flow of abstract labour springing from a stock of labour power. Such a commodity seems to be a natural abstraction, a substance with the properties of a productive force. Exploitation occurs when the exchange value of the flow of labour power is lower than the value-creating capacity of abstract labour. According to the second theory, the employment contract is a transaction establishing the worker’s subordination to the capitalist and the subsumption of his productive abilities under capital. This is an illuminating anticipation of the modern theory of the employment contract as an institution determining an authority relationship. It is not liable to criticisms of essentialism and naturalism and is able to sustain a consistent and realistic account of capitalist exploitation as being based on the command the capitalist exerts in the production process. Now abstract labour is seen not as a productive force, but as the expression of a social relationship, and is considered an abstraction that is real in a historical sense rather than in a natural sense.

Screpanti, E. (2015). Karl Marx on Wage Labour: From Natural Abstraction to Formal Sumsumption.

Karl Marx on Wage Labour: From Natural Abstraction to Formal Sumsumption

Screpanti E.
2015-01-01

Abstract

Marx develops two different theories of the employment contract. According to the first, it is an agreement for the sale of a commodity whereby the worker cedes a flow of abstract labour springing from a stock of labour power. Such a commodity seems to be a natural abstraction, a substance with the properties of a productive force. Exploitation occurs when the exchange value of the flow of labour power is lower than the value-creating capacity of abstract labour. According to the second theory, the employment contract is a transaction establishing the worker’s subordination to the capitalist and the subsumption of his productive abilities under capital. This is an illuminating anticipation of the modern theory of the employment contract as an institution determining an authority relationship. It is not liable to criticisms of essentialism and naturalism and is able to sustain a consistent and realistic account of capitalist exploitation as being based on the command the capitalist exerts in the production process. Now abstract labour is seen not as a productive force, but as the expression of a social relationship, and is considered an abstraction that is real in a historical sense rather than in a natural sense.
Screpanti, E. (2015). Karl Marx on Wage Labour: From Natural Abstraction to Formal Sumsumption.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11365/1051296