Karl Marx's Commodification Of Labor

Decent Essays
This fundamental shift from the producer-oriented economies of the 18th and 19th centuries to a consumption driven economy marked a turning point in the history of American society. The Industrial Revolution had much to do with the transformation of the economy into one which thrived on a capitalistic, consumer-driven market. The revolution, in its creation of both the new working class and the middle class, sparked new social relations. Man was now treated as a commodity that could be bought and sold on the open market. It is this commodification of man that is the central contention of the Marxist revolution. However, the commodification of labor was inevitable and necessary, as it was an integral process in building the capitalistic society…show more content…
In Capital Vol. I, Marx observed that, for employers to maintain their competitive advantage and profitability, there was a need to intensify the commoditized labor time as an abstract exchange value. Time, therefore, would be calculated in relations to money, profit, and efficiency in competition. The specialization of labor and the lack of land for subsistence farming sparked a massive rural-to-urban migration that was necessary for supplying the capitalistic cities with a constant supply of labor. Progressivism was an amalgamation of a wide range of reforms that were either political, economic, moral, or social. There were movements to regulate child labor, eliminate corruption in government offices, control the business practices of the capitalist elite, and address the debilitating working conditions of the working class. Despite enabling factory owners and politicians to grow wealthy, the Industrial Revolution had left the working class in the same position of low…show more content…
The abundance of the mass production and consumption economy generated increased wages of the middle class and high profits of the affluent investors. For part of the working class, and also the middle class, there was also a mass extension of credit, which facilitated the lavish spending on items that were only meant to display wealth. According to Thorstein Veblen, post-World War I Americans were caught up in a mass culture where they wanted to live the American dream, which was to become rich with the least effort possible. It did not help that mass production facilitated the availability of commodities like automobiles, household appliances, and even personal electronics like the radio. The mobility offered by the mass extension of the automobile played a significant role in the migration of the middle class to suburbia. As one might expect, this movement coupled with the eventual G.I. Bill benefited new economic sectors such as the housing
Get Access