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SOCB30H3 Study Guide - Quiz Guide: Wage Labour, Labour Power, Productive Forces

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Jennifer Chun
Study Guide

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Week 2 – Wage, Labour, and Capital – Marx & Engels
- Marx rst reported materialist conception of history in 1844
piece “German Ideology”
oThen turned focus onto economic studies
Although viewpoint stayed the same
oHe proposed a thesis of alienated labour: where capital-
labour relationship is self destructive, and temporary due
to nature of dynamics
oThis point is made in Wage, Labour, and Capital
Presented in 1847, published in 1849 in German
newspaper (where Marx was editor in chief)
oLabour = a worker ‘selling’ his labour to a capitalist
Marx argues:
- We only address power/capitalist issues when they forcibly show
up and not otherwise
- Wages = sum of money paid by capitalist for a particular labour
time or output of labour
oThis means then, that a capitalist although seemingly
buying ‘labour’ with money, is really buying ‘labour power’
(a supply of “power” that can be used up just like electrical
power, or sugar)
- Labour power is a commodity a wage worker sells to capital in
order to live
oIn selling his labour power, the act of labour or working is
made into his life activity (what he spends his time doing)
oThis life activity is sold to another person so that the
person selling it can support himself
And yet labour is not seen as part of his life, rather, a
The product of activity is not necessarily the object of
In other words, the product of one’s work may
be that you produce furniture, but really the
object(ive) is to make money
- Labour is not always paid
oFree labourer for example (such as slaves)
Slaves do not sell their labour as a commodity
Rather they themselves are sold as a person
and used
Workers do not belong to anyone, only the hours
they are working are belonging to the capitalist who
buys them
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