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Class Agency Under Conditions of Self-Enforcement: Marx on Capitalists' Common's Problem

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  • Korkut Alp Erturk

Abstract

Marx discussed institutional innovations in the context of a complex dynamic between inter versus intra-group opportunism, which contains clues for understanding how capacity for class agency develops. His lengthy discussion of the English Factory Acts in his Vol. I of Capital is an important case in point, which the paper revisits for its broader lessons not only for how institutions solve collective action problems but also how they become self-enforcing when third party enforcement is ineffective. The paper gives an account of how the Acts could have become self-enforcing at a time when the state enforcement capacity was rudimentary at best. The argument focuses on the dynamic between inter versus intra-class opportunism, shedding analytical light on how organized labor could help capitalists bolster their capacity for class agency.

Suggested Citation

  • Korkut Alp Erturk, 2019. "Class Agency Under Conditions of Self-Enforcement: Marx on Capitalists' Common's Problem," Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, University of Utah 2019_01, University of Utah, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:uta:papers:2019_01
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Anderson, Gary M & Ekelund, Robert B, Jr & Tollison, Robert D, 1989. "Nassau Senior as Economic Consultant: The Factory Acts Reconsidered," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 56(221), pages 71-81, February.
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    5. Aghion, Philippe & Hermalin, Benjamin, 1990. "Legal Restrictions on Private Contracts Can Enhance Efficiency," Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, Oxford University Press, vol. 6(2), pages 381-409, Fall.
    6. Marvel, Howard P, 1977. "Factory Regulation: A Reinterpretation of Early English Experience," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(2), pages 379-402, October.
    7. Douglas E. Booth, 1978. "Collective Action, Marx’s Class Theory, and the Union Movement," Journal of Economic Issues, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(1), pages 163-185, March.
    8. Aghion, Philippe & Hermalin, Benjamin, 1990. "Why Legal Restrictions on Private Contracts Can Enhance Efficiency," Department of Economics, Working Paper Series qt4j76f10g, Department of Economics, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Institutions; collective action problem; opportunistism; common's problem JEL Classification: B14; B55; C720;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • B14 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Socialist; Marxist
    • B55 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Social Economics

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