Labour power

The term labor force refers to the physical or mental capacity of a person. It can be both individually ( as a way to work ) as well as to the entire work of one person (eg as workers) related. The labor force plays a significant role in Marxist theory in the form of a commodity.

Away from the Marxist theory is as a unit for measuring the labor force often the person-hour (formerly man-hour ) were used.


Marx meant by labor or labor capacity, the " physical and mental abilities that exist in the corporeality of the living personality of a person and which he sets in motion whenever he produces use-values ​​of some sort. "

Labor force in the Critique of Political Economy

Marx writes to the merit, in contrast to classical economics to distinguish between work and " work force ". Wage workers sell their labor power as a commodity. The value of these goods are determined in accordance with labor theory of value as the work that is necessary to obtain the labor of the workers. Marx then explains the added value so that the wage-workers work longer than is necessary for the reproduction of their own labor, so do unpaid overtime. The interest created by that unpaid surplus labor value is the added value that remains with the capitalists. For Marx, the value added is measured as the difference between the value of labor power on the one hand and the while of its expenditure, ie during the total working time, created value, the new value, on the other hand.

Theory History

Marx developed the concept of the work force for the first time in the Grundrisse of the critique of political economy by 1857. As Engels later regarding past writings observes, " phrases and whole sentences from the standpoint of the later writings appear to be tilted and even incorrect ... " For example, why he. the re-publication of Marx's wage Labour and Capital makes changes that revolve " all about a point ": "After the original of the worker sells for wages the capitalists his work, according to the current text his labor. " Angel works the genesis of the term through the development of classical political economy out: " Once ... the economists [ the ] determination of value by labor anwandten to the goods ' work ', they fell out of a contradiction in the other. What is the value of the ' work ' determined? By the end plug into their necessary work. Classical economics ... tried it so with a different twist; she said: The value of a commodity is equal to its cost of production. But what are the costs of production of labor? To answer this question, the economists of the logic must do a bit of violence. Instead of the production cost of the work itself, which, unfortunately, can not be determined, they are now investigating what are the production costs of the worker. What ... the economists had considered the cost of production ' work ', the cost of production ... of the living worker were themselves And what he sold to the capitalist, was not his work ... ( which should be only done yet ) but it provides the capitalists ... its work force against a certain payment available: he rented respectively. sells his labor power. The difficulty ... where the best economists failed, as long as they ' work ' emanated from the value of, disappears once we take the ' work force ' go out on the value of. The labor power is a commodity in our present-day capitalist society, a commodity like any other, but a very peculiar commodity. She has the peculiar property that is value-creating power to be a source of value, namely, when properly treated, source of more value than it itself possesses. "

Marx makes this new version of the problem, among other things, to develop the category of surplus labor and to develop his theory of surplus value. The importance of the distinction between labor and labor power makes Marx in Capital, among others, evident when he states that the "work force that exists in the personality of the worker, ..., is as different from its function, the work as a. machine " About the problems of classical political economy in determining the value of the work he expresses, for example, in the following way: " by their operations so What would be the value, for example, zwölfsründigen one working day determined? By working in a 12 hour time contained 12 working hours, which is an absurd tautology " As Engels Marx also describes the problem of classical political economy ". Busy with the difference between the market prices of labor and their so-called value, ... you never discovered that the course of the analysis had led not only from the market prices of labor to its presumed value, but then, even to resolve this value of work back in the value of labor power. Unconsciousness on this result of their own analysis ... complicated ... the classical political economy in inextricable confusion and contradictions "

In connection to Althusser could be argued, Marx and Engels make a kind symptomale reading of classical political economy, that is, they work out the unasked questions and related issues to which the classics but implicitly already gave an answer, namely that the of them so called value of the work actually the value of labor power is.