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Adam Smiths concept of productive and unproductive labour: An Interpretation

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  • Roy Grieve

    ()
    (Department of Economics, University of Strathclyde)

Abstract

This note explores Smith’s employment of the concept of ‘productive labour’, a concept which commentators have frequently found problematic. We suggest that Smith’s difficulty in formulating a satisfactory definition of ‘productive labour’ stems from the fact that he seems to have had in mind - and to have tried to combine - two different (but only independently valid), concepts of productive labour: one (anticipating Marx) in respect of labour whose employment yields surplus value to the capitalist, the other (presaging Sraffa) focusing on labour employed in certain necessary or ‘basic’ industries within the economy.

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File URL: http://www.strath.ac.uk/media/departments/economics/researchdiscussionpapers/2008/08-05Amended.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by University of Strathclyde Business School, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 0805.

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Length: 28 pages
Date of creation: Apr 2008
Date of revision: Feb 2009
Handle: RePEc:str:wpaper:0805

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Keywords: Adam Smith: Productive and Unproductive Labour; Surplus Production;

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