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Representing the production and circulation of commodities in material terms: On Sraffa's objectivism

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  • Heinz Kurz
  • Neri Salvadori

Abstract

The paper discusses Sraffa's interpretation of the classical economists and, following their lead, his elaboration of an objectivist, surplus-based theory of value and distribution. The emphasis is on the twin concepts of physical real costs and social surplus on the one hand and that of a circular flow of production on the other. In order to determine relative prices within such an analytical scheme, the tool of simultaneous equations is indispensable. It is then argued that fixed capital turned out to be a formidable obstacle: whereas the circulating part of capital allows one to entertain the idea of a material-cum-value transmigration into the product, this idea loses much of its appeal with regard to the durable part. Sraffa eventually overcame the difficulty in terms of the joint-products approach.

Suggested Citation

  • Heinz Kurz & Neri Salvadori, 2005. "Representing the production and circulation of commodities in material terms: On Sraffa's objectivism," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 17(3), pages 413-441.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:17:y:2005:i:3:p:413-441
    DOI: 10.1080/09538250500147189
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Heinz Kurz & Neri Salvadori, 2005. "Removing an 'insuperable obstacle' in the way of an objectivist analysis: Sraffa's attempts at fixed capital," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(3), pages 493-523.
    2. Christian Gehrke & Heinz D. Kurz, 2006. "Sraffa on von Bortkiewicz: Reconstructing the Classical Theory of Value and Distribution," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 38(1), pages 91-149, Spring.
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    Cited by:

    1. Heinz Kurz & Neri Salvadori, 2005. "Removing an 'insuperable obstacle' in the way of an objectivist analysis: Sraffa's attempts at fixed capital," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(3), pages 493-523.
    2. Lee, Frederic & Jo, Tae-Hee, 2010. "Heterodox production and cost theory of the business enterprise," MPRA Paper 27635, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    3. repec:spr:italej:v:4:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s40797-017-0063-1 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Pierangelo Garegnani, 2005. "On a turning point in Sraffa's theoretical and interpretative position in the late 1920s," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(3), pages 453-492.
    5. Fratini, Saverio M., 2016. "Sraffa on the Degeneration of the Notion of Cost," Centro Sraffa Working Papers CSWP21, Centro di Ricerche e Documentazione "Piero Sraffa".
    6. Pier Luigi Porta, 2013. "What remains of Sraffa's economics," Working Papers 242, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised May 2013.
    7. Kurz, Heinz D., 2006. "The agents of production are the commodities themselves: On the classical theory of production, distribution and value," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 17(1), pages 1-26, January.
    8. Lee, Frederic, 2011. "Heterodox surplus approach: production, prices, and value theory," MPRA Paper 31824, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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