Book Chapters

The ‘Value’ of Knowledge: Reappraising Labour in the Post-Industrial Economy


Abstract: “Knowledge is implicitly assumed to form an increasingly important, or even the dominant source of values for today’s knowledge based organizations. It is rare, however, to encounter writings questioning what is ‘value’, enquiring into its provenance, or examining its distribution amongst organization’s stakeholders. This chapter asks these very questions, focusing on Marx’s (1976) formulation of value theory. Divided into four parts, it begins by giving a basic overview of the labour theory of value, as developed by Marx in mid 19th century, industrialised England. The second part examines Roy Jacques’ (2000) critique of Marx, his rejection of the adequacy of ‘labour’ as a concept for analysing contemporary value production, and his call for a ‘knowledge theory of value’. The third section focuses on labour process theorist Paul Thompson (2005) and his challenge to the idea that labour and knowledge are fundamentally different. The fourth part extends this concern with ‘other’ forms of contemporary labour to a more global level by examining De Angelis’ (2006) and Retort’s (2005) suggestion that the global economy today is driven by acts of enclosure and ‘primitive accumulation.”

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Categories: Book Chapters