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Exploitation, inequality, and power

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  • Veneziani, Roberto

Abstract

The concept of exploitation is central in social and political theory, but there is no precise, widely accepted definition. This paper analyses John Roemer’s seminal theory, which construes exploitation as a distributive injustice arising from asset inequalities, with no reference to notions of power or dominance. First, an intertemporal generalisation of Roemer’s static economies is set up and several doubts are raised on the claim that exploitation can be reduced to a kind of resource egalitarianism. Then, Roemer’s philosophical arguments that exploitation should be defined as a merely distributive concept are also questioned and it is argued that a notion of power, or dominance, is an essential part of the definition of exploitation. Finally, Roemer’s path-breaking methodological claim that standard general equilibrium models can provide robust microfoundations to exploitation and classes is critically analysed.

Suggested Citation

  • Veneziani, Roberto, 2008. "Exploitation, inequality, and power," MPRA Paper 30288, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:30288
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Skillman, Gilbert L., 1995. "Ne Hic Saltaveris: The Marxian Theory of Exploitation After Roemer," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(02), pages 309-331, October.
    2. Roemer,John E., 1997. "Egalitarian Perspectives," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521574457, April.
    3. Naoki Yoshihara, 1998. "Wealth, Exploitation and Labor Discipline in the Contemporary Capitalist Economy," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 49(1), pages 23-61, February.
    4. Veneziani, Roberto, 2006. "A future for (analytical) Marxism?," MPRA Paper 30864, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    5. Duncan K. Foley, 1989. "Roemer On Marx On Exploitation," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 1(2), pages 187-199, July.
    6. Roemer, John, 1992. "What Walrasian Marxism Can and Cannot Do," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(01), pages 149-156, April.
    7. John E. Roemer & Roberto Veneziani, 2001. "What We Owe Our Children, They Their Children,..," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1326, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
    8. Veneziani, Roberto, 2007. "Exploitation and time," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 132(1), pages 189-207, January.
    9. Jonathan P. Goldstein, 2006. "Marxian Microfoundations: Contribution or Detour?," Review of Radical Political Economics, Union for Radical Political Economics, vol. 38(4), pages 569-594, December.
    10. repec:cup:apsrev:v:92:y:1998:i:01:p:83-96_20 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Alan Carling, 1997. "Analytical and Essential Marxism," Political Studies, Political Studies Association, vol. 45(4), pages 768-783, September.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Naoki Yoshihara & Roberto Veneziani, 2013. "The Measurement of Labour Content: A General Approach," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2013-05, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.
    2. Yoshihara, Naoki & Veneziani, Roberto, 2009. "Exploitation as the Unequal Exchange of Labour : An Axiomatic Approach," Discussion Paper Series a524, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    3. Jonathan F. Cogliano & Roberto Veneziani & Naoki Yoshihara, 2016. "The Dynamics of Exploitation and Class in Accumulation Economies," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(2), pages 242-290, May.
    4. repec:ums:papers:2014-010 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Veneziani, Roberto & Yoshihara, Naoki, 2014. "One Million Miles to Go: Taking the Axiomatic Road to Defining Exploitation," Discussion Paper Series 615, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    6. repec:bla:jecsur:v:31:y:2017:i:5:p:1421-1448 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Naoki Yoshihara & Soh Kaneko, 2015. "On the existence and characterization of unequal exchange in the free trade equilibrium," Working Papers SDES-2015-3, Kochi University of Technology, School of Economics and Management, revised Jan 2015.
    8. Jonathan F. Cogliano, 2017. "Surplus Value Production and Realization in Marxian Theory - Applications to the U.S., 1987-2015," Working Paper Series 2017-01, Dickinson College, Department of Economics.
    9. Jonathan F. Cogliano & Roberto Veneziani & Naoki Yoshihara, 2018. "Exploitation, skills, and inequality," Working Paper Series 2018-01, Dickinson College, Department of Economics.
    10. Galanis, Giorgos & Veneziani, Roberto & Yoshihara, Naoki, 2016. "Growth, Exploitation and Class Inequalities," Discussion Paper Series 636, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    11. Roberto Veneziani & Naoki Yoshihara, 2017. "Globalisation and inequality in a dynamic economy: an axiomatic analysis of unequal exchange," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 49(3), pages 445-468, December.
    12. Roberto Veneziani & Luca Zamparelli & Naoki Yoshihara, 2017. "A Progress Report On Marxian Economic Theory: On The Controversies In Exploitation Theory Since Okishio (1963)," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 31(5), pages 1421-1448, December.
    13. Roberto Veneziani & Naoki Yoshihara, 2017. "The theory of exploitation as the unequal exchange of labour," Working Papers 824, Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
    14. Carlo V. Fiorio & Simon Mohun & Roberto Veneziani, 2013. "Social Democracy and Distributive Conflict in the UK, 1950-2010," Working Papers 705, Queen Mary University of London, School of Economics and Finance.
    15. Veneziani, Roberto & Yoshihara, Naoki, 2016. "The Theory of Exploitation as the Unequal Exchange of Labour," Discussion Paper Series 652, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    16. repec:spr:sochwe:v:49:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s00355-017-1072-6 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Veneziani, Roberto & Yoshihara, Naoki, 2013. "Unequal Exchange, Assets, and Power: Recent Developments in Exploitation Theory," Discussion Paper Series 594, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Exploitation; inequality; power;

    JEL classification:

    • B51 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Socialist; Marxian; Sraffian
    • D63 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Equity, Justice, Inequality, and Other Normative Criteria and Measurement
    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis

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