Adam Smiths concept of productive and unproductive labour: An Interpretation
This note explores SmithÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s employment of the concept of Ã¢â‚¬Ëœproductive labourÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, a concept which commentators have frequently found problematic. We suggest that SmithÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s difficulty in formulating a satisfactory definition of Ã¢â‚¬Ëœproductive labourÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ 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 Ã¢â‚¬ËœbasicÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ industries within the economy.
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|Date of revision:||Feb 2009|
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