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From Formal Subsumption to General Intellect: Elements for a Marxist Reading of the Thesis of Cognitive Capitalism, in Historical Materialism


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  • Carlo Vercellone

    (CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - CNRS : UMR8174 - Université Paris I - Panthéon-Sorbonne)

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    Since the crisis of Fordism, capitalism has been characterised by the ever more central role ofknowledge and the rise of the cognitive dimensions of labour. This is not to say that the centralityof knowledge to capitalism is new per se. Rather, the question we must ask is to what extent we canspeak of a new role for knowledge and, more importantly, its relationship with transformations inthe capital/labour relation. From this perspective, the paper highlights the continuing validity ofMarx's analysis of the knowledge/power relation in the development of the division of labour. Moreprecisely, we are concerned with the theoretical and heuristic value of the concepts of formalsubsumption, real subsumption and general intellect for any interpretation of the present change ofthe capital/labour relation in cognitive capitalism. In this way, we show the originality of the generalintellect hypothesis as a sublation of real subsumption. Finally, the article summarises keycontradictions and new forms of antagonism in cognitive capitalism.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by HAL in its series Post-Print with number halshs-00263661.

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    Date of creation: Mar 2007
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    Publication status: Published, Historical Materialism, 2007, 15, 1, 13-36
    Handle: RePEc:hal:journl:halshs-00263661

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    Keywords: crisis; division of labour; knowledge; formal subsumption; real subsumption; general intellect; cognitive capitalism; diffuse intellectuality;


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