See the notes on Capital Volume 4 below for basic outline of Marx's views
on productive labour. His views have obviously been widely challenged
and developed over the years. Post-marxist/ postmodern Marxist discussions
of the changing role of the disctinction between productive and unproductive
labour in modern capitalism often invoke the change towards immaterial labour
and a post-industrial society.
challenge comes of course from various socialist and marxist feminisms.
Termed the 'domestic labour debate' this centres on the role of household
work in the reproduction of the working class. One extreme version of
this thesis comes from Jeff Hearn who argues that patriarchal reproduction
is the more socially determinate form of social relations of production,
thus undermining the productivist centrality of Marx's conception. One
resulting concept has been the idea of 'affective labour', that which
reproduces the general conditions for the reproduction of labour power.
Other criticisms of productivism as a Bourgeois ethic come from Bataille
(The Accursed Share) and Baudrillard (The
Mirror of production).