Nearer to Sraffa than Marx: Adam Smith on Productive and Unproductive Labour

Roy Grieve

Research output: Working paperDiscussion paper

Abstract

We investigate Adam Smith’s analysis of the properties of what he called “productive” - as against “unproductive” - labour, a concept which commentators have frequently found problematic. Puzzles have been noted and inconsistency alleged. A question arises – did Smith confuse two different concepts of productive labour? We believe that, despite the apparent problems, a coherent reading of Smith’s account of productive and unproductive labour is in fact possible: if “productive labour” is understood to refer comprehensively to labour which not only maintains but, through producing a net surplus, adds to the community’s stock of wealth – as regards either the financial or the real resources which make possible economic growth – the difficulties with Smith’s treatment largely disappear.
LanguageEnglish
Place of PublicationGlasgow
PublisherUniversity of Strathclyde
Pages1-27
Number of pages28
Volume13
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Fingerprint

Labor
Karl Marx
Adam Smith
Sraffa
Inconsistency
Resources
Wealth
Economic growth
Surplus

Keywords

  • productive/unproductive labour
  • basic/non-basic goods
  • surplus production

Cite this

Grieve, R. (2013). Nearer to Sraffa than Marx: Adam Smith on Productive and Unproductive Labour. (04 ed.) (pp. 1-27). Glasgow: University of Strathclyde.
Grieve, Roy. / Nearer to Sraffa than Marx : Adam Smith on Productive and Unproductive Labour. 04. ed. Glasgow : University of Strathclyde, 2013. pp. 1-27
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Grieve, R 2013 'Nearer to Sraffa than Marx: Adam Smith on Productive and Unproductive Labour' 04 edn, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, pp. 1-27.

Nearer to Sraffa than Marx : Adam Smith on Productive and Unproductive Labour. / Grieve, Roy.

04. ed. Glasgow : University of Strathclyde, 2013. p. 1-27.

Research output: Working paperDiscussion paper

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Grieve R. Nearer to Sraffa than Marx: Adam Smith on Productive and Unproductive Labour. 04 ed. Glasgow: University of Strathclyde. 2013, p. 1-27.