Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Wage Labour and Capital 2

Marx clearly argues that wages are determined in a same way that prices are determined. According to him "the fluctuations of wages correspond to the fluctuation in the price of commodities in general. But within the limits of these fluctuations the price of labor-power will be determined by the cost of production, by the labor-time necessary for production of this commodity: labor-power". Then, he seems to reach a conclusion that there is "a" subsistence (minimum) wage for all working class and individual wages can be around this wage. However, if we consider that prices are determined at industry level and wages determination is reminiscent of this process, should not we talk about more than one subsistence wage or minimum wage. In other words, can we speak about different minimum wages for different industries? In fact, I feel in the same chapter, Marx explicitly seems to hint this, for him, “It [wage] is the cost required for the maintenance of the laborer as a laborer, and for his education and training as a laborer.” Given the fact that different industries may require different education and training level, one may argue that there may be different subsistence wage levels. However, most of Marxists economists seem to assume that there should be only one minimum wage in an economy. In this sense, Neo-Marxists models make this assumption too (recall Stephen Marglin and others). Although, Oone can find some justifications for this position too, I guess it would be interesting to discuss the existence of different subsistence wages in an economy which can enrich understanding of wage dynamics in a capitalist economy.

1 comment:

Paddy Quick said...

I don't think Marx had much to say about wage differentials within the working class. Probably accepted much of Adam Smith re cost of skill acquisition. Capitalist workplaces are heirarchical (partly in repsonse to w. class organization) so wages have to be structured accordingly.
I think Marx is most useful in talking about relations between "the working class" (as a whole) and the capitalist class(as a whole(