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Capital as a Social Process: A Marxian Perspective

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  • Miguel D. Ramirez

    () (Department of Economics, Trinity College)

Abstract

This paper analyzes the very important notion of capital from a Marxian perspective as opposed to a neoclassical one. It is argued that when capital is viewed as a historically determined social process (relation), rather than as a thing or a collection of things, it tends to assume certain specific forms more often than others depending on the particular stage of economic history. Capital thus refers simultaneously to social relations and to things. Given this frame of reference, notions such as money and property capital are more easily accommodated and consequently are not written off as financial or fictitious capital—not real capital—because they “produce nothing.” The paper also focuses on Marx’s important analysis of the time of production and the turnover of capital in terms of the production of surplus-value (profit). It then examines Marx’s equally important and prescient analysis of how the turnover speed of capital is affected by the time of circulation of commodities (the realization of surplus-value) and the growing use of credit (in its various forms) in the capitalist system. Finally, the paper turns its attention to the economic role of time as it relates to interest-bearing (loan) capital and Adam Smith’s important distinction between productive and unproductive labor—one whose clear comprehension rests on viewing capital as a social construct.

Suggested Citation

  • Miguel D. Ramirez, 2017. "Capital as a Social Process: A Marxian Perspective," Working Papers 1705, Trinity College, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2017.
  • Handle: RePEc:tri:wpaper:1705
    as

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    File URL: http://internet2.trincoll.edu/repec/WorkingPapers2017/WP17-05.pdf
    File Function: First version, 2017
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Brewer,Anthony, 1984. "A Guide to Marx's 'Capital'," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521276764, May.
    2. Aldo Barba & Giancarlo de Vivo, 2012. "An 'unproductive labour' view of finance," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(6), pages 1479-1496.
    3. Miguel D. Ramírez, 2014. "Credit, The Turnover of Capital, and the Law of the Falling Rate of Profit: A Critical Note," Contributions to Political Economy, Oxford University Press, vol. 33(1), pages 61-68.
    4. Miguel D. Ramirez, 2007. "Marx, Wages, and Cyclical Crises: A Critical Interpretation," Contributions to Political Economy, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(1), pages 27-41.
    5. repec:mes:postke:v:6:y:1984:i:3:p:421-433 is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Capital; commodity capital; credit; crises; exchange-value; interest-bearing capital; money capital; productive capital; productive and unproductive labor; time of production and circulation; turnover speed of capital; rate of surplus-value (profit).;

    JEL classification:

    • B10 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - General
    • B14 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Socialist; Marxist
    • B24 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Socialist; Marxist; Scraffian

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