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Title: Class, surplus, and the division of labour : a post-Marxian exploration
Author: Polak, Michal
Awarding Body: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Current Institution: London School of Economics and Political Science (University of London)
Date of Award: 2009
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The thesis attempts to account for an apparently wide array of class-like entities in present-day capitalist formation, while remaining true to the spirit of Marxian theory, in which the relationship of exploitation implies a polarised, two-class society. It is argued that the efforts to solve this puzzle usually involve notions of class based on the division of labour. The fundamental concepts of the original theory, such as reproduction, subsistence, exploitation and class are then re-examined and reconstructed. The idea of profit as based on surplus labour is defended, securing the basis for the Marxian understanding of class. The Transformation Problem of moving from labour values to prices of production is discussed and while the force of the Sraffian critique is admitted, a new interpretation of the problem is suggested, making it possible to see the Sraffian schema as a generalisation of the Marxian one. Labour Theory of Value is analysed as a 'dual theory of exploitation and price' and it is argued that only the latter part is vulnerable to the criticisms advanced. The Sraffian schema is interpreted as a clear explication of the concept of exploitation, throwing into sharp relief the disjunction between exploitation-based and division-of-labour-based views of class. An integration of the two concepts is attempted by proposing a new, generalised notion termed 'complexploitation' (complex exploitation) flowing from what is claimed to be the essential idea behind the concept of exploitation: that one group of agents is more oppressed by the constraints of the so-called 'Sphere of Necessity', just so that another group may enjoy more of the fruits of the 'Sphere of Freedom'. Finally it is suggested that the concept of complexploitation makes possible a more fine-grained class map of society than the original two-class model.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available