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Marx’s social analysis of value and Big Pharma. Rethinking the social determinants of value in cognitive capitalism


  • Gagnon, Marc-André

    (Carleton University)


By analyzing the capitalist dynamics at work in the knowledge-based economy, cognitive capitalism has shown that the classical laws of value creation do not hold anymore. Rethinking the laws of value, however, is no easy task. The first section of this paper reconsiders Marx’s analysis of value, and demonstrates that Marx struggled by trying to mix two distinct and incompatible conceptions of value: the embodied labour approach and the social analysis of value. The paper argues that the former must be abandoned and that we need to focus only on the latter in order to better understand how value is being produced. To analyze the social production of value in cognitive capitalism, the second part of this paper builds on the case of the global pharmaceutical sector.

Suggested Citation

  • Gagnon, Marc-André, 2011. "Marx’s social analysis of value and Big Pharma. Rethinking the social determinants of value in cognitive capitalism," European Journal of Economic and Social Systems, Lavoisier, vol. 24(1-2), pages 119-136.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:ejessy:0030

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    More about this item


    Cognitive capitalism; Marx; social analysis of value; pharmaceutical sector; innovation;

    JEL classification:

    • B14 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Socialist; Marxist
    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals
    • B51 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Socialist; Marxian; Sraffian
    • F23 - International Economics - - International Factor Movements and International Business - - - Multinational Firms; International Business
    • L65 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Manufacturing - - - Chemicals; Rubber; Drugs; Biotechnology; Plastics
    • P12 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Capitalist Enterprises


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