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The Labor Theory of Value -Reconsidered Edgar Degas, Women Ironing. 1886 Presenter: Lydia Alpural- Sullivan

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The Labor Theory of Value -Reconsidered

The Labor Theory of Value -Reconsidered

Edgar Degas, Women Ironing. 1886Presenter: Lydia Alpural- Sullivan

What is the Labor Theory of Value? Adam Smith -Labor as the determinant of value, by transforming raw materials into exchangeable goods. (relative value, in the rate of exchange)

Karl Marx - Socially Necessary Abstract Labor Time

= (Average time to perform)

Service Vs. Manufacture: ClassicalsAdam Smith:

There is one sort of labour which adds to the value of the subject upon which it is bestowed; there is another which has no such effect. the labour of a manufacturer adds, generally, to the value of the materials which he works upon, that of his own maintenance, and of his master's profit. The labour of a menial servant, on the contrary, adds to the value of nothing.

Wealth of Nations, p.429

Service Vs. Manufacture: Post-Classical

A difference of tenses

Objectified Labor: Labor performed in the past, which is embodied in an object. = perfect tense (Commodity)

Living Labor: labor in the form of an activity. =present tense (Service)

A Formal difference, mediated by division of Labor and exchange. -Grundrisse

Wages The story is that wage rates are purely market-determined:

Wage DeterminationIn reality, wage determination is complex and multi-factorial.

To some extent, wage prices are administered.

Who gets what wage, and why?

WagesThe market-determined wage story fails to explain the wage gap.

& our definition of the wage gap in which working women earn 77% of what men earn, on average is one-dimensional.

Gendered Time Allocation

Weekly earnings come closest toparity for non-married people with nochildren.

They are most disparate for marriedcouples with children 6-17 yrs.

Weekly earnings are generally moredisparate for married vs.non-married.

Quantifying Housework

Starting in their mid-20s until retirement age, women spend an average of 16.3 hours perweek on household non-leisure activities.

After retirement age, that average goes up to 20.3.

For educated women, a 10% increase in time spent working correlates to only ~2% decrease in time spent on housework.

Household Division of Labor Average hours per day men and women spent in various activities

Average hours per dayMenWomen

Non-leisure Household activities1.3 2.2Caring for and helping household members0.3 0.6 Weekly Sum: 9.4 hr 15.8 hr

*Data include all days of the week & annual averages for 2013. SOURCE: Bureau of Labor Statistics, American Time Use Survey

A Labour of LoveSilvia Federici:Marxist-Feminist scholar & activist.

Not only has housework been imposed upon women, but it has been transformed into a natural attribute of our female physique and personality an internal need, supposedly coming from the depth of our female character. Wages Against Housework, p. 2

Doing work Vs. Being Work

Impact on Wages?

Labor Value and CapitalAs long as capitalism and the wage system rule, only that kind of work is considered productive. which creates capitalist profit. From this point of view, the music-hall dancer whose legs sweep profit into her employers pocket is a productive worker, whereas all the toil of the proletarian women and mothers in the four walls of their homes is considered unproductive. Rosa Luxembourg, Women's Suffrage and class Struggle, 1912Domestic Labor surplus + wage


Cost-Benefit Imbalance Socialized Cost Privatised Benefit

Child care, ma/paternity leave a family (womens) issue.

Gendered division of Labor

Feminine work culturally undervalued

No benefits extended, no need for paid leave.

Work of keeping wage laborers productive is done at no cost.

Divide and Conquer- Always have a low-cost segment of workers available

Remunerating Domestic WorkWages for Housework Campaign demanded wage compensation for domestic labor. What about a Basic Income?

A relatively simple way to ensure that productivity producedby labor is re-distributed to ALL productive labor, even that which is not directly linked to capital.