Work & the Economy
∙ Based on private ownership of the means of production (land, raw materials, factories, machines).
∙ Capitalists and workers are involved in relationships of unequal, legally free, but economically coercive
exchange (capitalists control the means of production, workers have no choice but to sell their labour)
∙ Workers are paid as little as possible and capitalists try to extract the most amount of work possible in
∙ Do capitalists buy and workers sell contractually specified labour or labour power (a worker’s total
capacity for labour)?
∙ Dominant ideology denies that employees care about their work (only owners care).
∙ Goal of production: maximizing profits (surplus value), not producing use value.
∙ Domination of market and money as means of distribution.
∙ Dominant for of production in capitalism
∙ Use of new forms of energy: water, steam, internal combustion, nuclear (“manufactory production”
uses only human and animals energy)
∙ Machine technology
∙ Large-scale (mass) production
∙ Increasingly detailed division of labour, therefore increasing use of unqualified, cheap labour: women
∙ Increasing productivity of labour: the amount of goods a worker produces in a unit of time.
∙ Sugiman: family capitalism
∙ Naiman: free enterprise / laissez-faire capitalism (state intervention limits the activity of enterprises
∙ A large number of small to medium firms compete in a market
∙ No buyer or seller can significantly influence prices by withdrawing from the market.
∙ “Honesty if the best policy”
∙ Attempts to maximize profit cause anarchy of production, which causes periodic crises of
∙ Free enterprise capitalism inevitably leads to concentration of ownership (monopolisation).
∙ Naiman: monopoly capitalism
∙ A corporation is a legal entity (Naiman: legal fiction) distinct from the people who own or control it.
Invented for protection of owners from poor economic performance.
∙ Concentration of ownership continues: increased size and decreased number of enterprises.