The autonomisation of abstract wealth: new insights on the labour theory of value

Rotta, Tomas and Teixeira, Rodrigo Alves. 2016. The autonomisation of abstract wealth: new insights on the labour theory of value. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 40(4), pp. 1185-1201. ISSN 0309-166X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

We theorise the forms of value in the Marxist system in a way that challenges the dominant tradition. The standard procedure has been to read Marx’s Capital as an analysis that begins at a high level of abstraction and moves towards more concrete concepts. Our alternative approach posits that the forms of value in the Marxist system evolve from more concrete towards more abstract forms of wealth that increasingly separate from and obscure labour exploitation. Our procedure therefore replaces the dominant interpretation of ‘successive approximations’ employed by most scholars. We develop a broader account of Marx’s project alongside textual evidence retrieved from many of his writings. We also provide a new way to incorporate the monetary, financial and rentier forms of wealth into Marx’s labour value theory. The proposed alternative approach can potentially open a research agenda on the contemporaneous dynamics of abstract and concrete forms of wealth in advanced capitalism.

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Additional Information:

JEL Classification: B51, B14, B24


Marx, Capital, Abstract Wealth, Autonomization, Labour Theory of Value

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Institute of Management Studies


1 November 2015Accepted
1 June 2015Published Online
July 2016Published

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Date Deposited:

10 Sep 2019 11:07

Last Modified:

11 Jun 2021 18:37

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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