Archive for the ‘Capital Volume 1, Part 5: The Production of Absolute and Relative Surplus-Value’ Category

We can represent the rate of surplus-value (the rate of exploitation) by means of the following formulae.

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What determines the value of labour-power? The value of the means of subsistence habitually required by the average worker. Let us ignore for the moment changes in the quantity of the goods necessary for subsistence, something which will vary according to historical epoch. Let us also ignore variations in the cost of developing labour-power, which will vary according to mode of production, and differences arising from the diversity of labour, from the different sorts of labour-power used (in turn conditioned by mode of production). And let us assume that (1) commodities are sold at their values, and (2) that the price of labour-power may occasionally rise above its value but never fall below it. We arrive at the following law: that the relative magnitudes of surplus-value and price of labour-power are determined by three factors: (1) the length of the working day; (2) the intensity of labour; (3) the productivity of labour. Of the many possible combinations of variations of these factors, we are now going to consider the most important.

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Our historical survey completed, we can now return to some of the theoretical issues related to the labour process in a more concrete way, so as to develop them.

More (pdf: 86 KB): capital_v1_ch16

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