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Introduction (Elgar Companion to Marxist Economics)

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The background for the present elaboration is twofold: firstly, the ongoing debate about whether the Marxian theory of value has been damaged (or even destroyed) by the alleged impossibility of solving the ‘transformation problem’ and secondly, the fact that almost all of the (later) economic manuscripts of Marx are now accessible due to the new publishing activities in the MEGA project. In regard to the former, it can be concluded that the rationale of the Marxian value concept is distorted by its Ricardian elements (including the labour theory of value). In regard to the latter, the later economic manuscripts as well as the few economic monographs published during Marx’s lifetime indicate that Marx was figuring out different modules for his value theory which are not really related to each other, let alone thoroughly synthesized with one another. Hence, in this elaboration, an attempt is made to reformulate this contested and fragmented value-theoretic torso by focussing on the non-Ricardian essentials of the value theory. This (de-)construction is then used as a basis for linking the different value-theoretic modules in terms of their ability to explain economic evolution. With this perspective, the dynamic nature of these modules is emphasized. Hence, in addition to a conceptual discussion of the value-theoretic modules, a simulation model is suggested for their integration. In this way, it can be shown that the value theory can be substantiated in a consistent stepwise fashion, and the conditions for generating the long-term results expected by Marx can be specified.
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The article is part of a research agenda that adopts the lenses of Political Economy to discuss the following question. What is the role of information and knowledge in the socioeconomic dynamics of the twenty-first century? Firstly, the article confronts two different theoretical perspectives: the cognitive capitalism and the polarization of knowledge approaches. Given the lack of agreement between these interpretations, the article also presents some results of an empirical investigation conducted in Silicon Valley (California), where semi-structured interviews with local workers’ representatives were adopted as an instrument of investigation. The voices of those who live the reality represented by the theories expose some contradictions in the local educational system, where the phenomenon of polarization of knowledge strengthens socioeconomic inequalities.
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Dieser Beitrag gibt einen Überblick über das Forschungsgebiet „Politische Ökonomie“, in dem Politikwissenschaftler, Ökonomen und andere Sozialwissenschaftler mittels verschiedener Theorien und Methoden das Verhältnis von Ökonomie und Staat untersuchen. In einem empirisch-analytischen Zweig der Politischen Ökonomie werden Umfang, Struktur und Wandel des „Interventionsstaates“ für bestimmte Untersuchungszeiträume und Länder beschrieben und erklärt. Der normative Zweig der Politischen Ökonomie beschäftigt sich mit der Frage, was der Staat im Wirtschaftssystem tun oder lassen sollte.
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This article discusses the polarization of information and knowledge, a phenomenon that is increasingly relevant in different spheres of the contemporary socioeconomic dynamics. According to this notion, founded mainly on the works of Karl Marx, information and knowledge are central elements in the contradictions between capital and labour, as well as in the internal contradictions of the working class. The idea of polarization of information and knowledge offers a critical point of view against the authors who, while trying to grasp the socioeconomic dynamics of our times, are captured by the enchantment of the techno-scientific progress. The article also adopts the Marxian concepts of universal labour and general intellect to argue that information, knowledge, and science are social constructions built collectively and should be treated as common goods. However, currently, the emancipatory perspective of the general intellect envisioned by Marx has been replaced by an opposite tendency: the private appropriation of the general intellect.
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This paper investigates the role of voluntary initiatives (VIs) as non-governmental systems of labour regulation in global value chains (GVCs). We ask under which conditions VIs with a more active role for labour emerge. In order to answer this question, we apply Wright’s (2000) theory of the factors enabling positive class compromise to a VI implemented in the Indonesian sportswear industry and extend it to the more complex realities of GVCs. We conclude that if VIs are to create conditions under which decent work can be strengthened, the involvement and strength of local labour organizations are required and producers’ and/or buyers’ dependence on workers’ cooperation acts as a catalyst.
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