Productive and un-productive Labour

Key figures:


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.

One major 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).

Notes on Capital Volume 4 Marx on Smith, Physiocrats and definitions of productive and unproductive labour.*

Marx quote from Grundrisse* of productive/unproductive labour

All labour produces value for capital and we all struggle against value - David Harvey

Leopoldina Fortunati - The Arcane of Reproducion: Housework, Prostitution, Labour and Capital. (Autonomedia 1995) *

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