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Unproductive Labor and the Smile Curve

Quentin, Clair (2023) Unproductive Labor and the Smile Curve. Review of Radical Political Economics, . ISSN 0486-6134. E-ISSN 1552-8502. (doi:10.1177/04866134231197671) (KAR id:102824)


A production boundary consistent with Marx’s theory of value may be drawn around labor that is quantitatively predicated by output at the point of exchange, as opposed to being merely causally predicated. The key difference between that production boundary and received Marxist doctrine on unproductive labor is that all other labor is excluded, rather than only such other labor that also falls to be treated as forming part of the “sphere of circulation.” Alternatively put, both sides of the “smile curve” are unproductive of value, rather than just the right-hand side. This conclusion substantiates the analytical nexus as between material production and global inequality to be found in critical global value chain literature.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1177/04866134231197671
Uncontrolled keywords: global value chains, inequality, material production, intangible assets, value theory, unproductive labor
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
Funders: University of Kent (
Depositing User: Clair Quentin
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2023 06:28 UTC
Last Modified: 24 Nov 2023 14:53 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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