What is the Value of things

Peter Herrmann, currently guest researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Social Law and Social Policy/Max-Planck-Institut für Sozialrecht und Sozialpolitik [section social law], Munich, Germany, will present later today his thoughts on
Value Theory –, asking if there is still any value in it?/Is it still worthwhile to talk about it?
to the conference


The theory of value is probably the most contested feature of Marx’ political economy. The reasons for this are the following two

* It stands at the centre of making out the political of political economy
* It is cross cutting with respect to the micro- and macro-level and especially the ‘personal/individual’ and the ‘societal/institutional’ aspects of economic thinking.
Today the questionable character comes even more to the fore as we witness an apparently fundamental change of the mode of production.
Notwithstanding the critique then and now, there are good reasons to emphasise the usefulness of the theory of value. These will be taken up by exploring explicitly the tensions mentioned, and discussing them against the background of the contemporary shift within the capitalist mode of production.
Marxism, in this light, is especially instrumental for the analysis of globalisation as it allows a clearer understanding not least of the emergence of poverty chains and the role of the capitalist state as institution that maintains centre-periphery patterns of inequality within the productive sphere. Furthermore, we can find from here at least clues for answers Marxism has when it comes to fighting for societal change.

Dimensions of Development and ‘Welfare’ – An Analytical Tool

The following emeges from and brings together different views on developmet, focussing on the political economy of processing structures, however taking also sociological, psychological and “governance” aspoects into account. Importantly, it is not least bound to a specific understanding of the relationality in which social processes and the “environment”.

An elaborated proposition will be published under the title “European Policies of Social Inclusion – Fatality of Good-Will”. A major reference for the elaboration had been the teaching of the MA in International Economy and Business at the Faculty of Economics at Corvinus University, Faculty of Economics, Department of World Economy. Thanks go to the students and some inspiring debates during the course work.

focus of the productive process


rationalisation/ technicisation

Demand-supply-side economics

matrix 1: Value Generation

high-value production founded in informational labour

high-volume production based in low-cost labour

redundant producers, reduced on devalued labour

production of raw material founded in natural resources

matrix 2: Resource Reference

autocentric development

extraverted development

relative economic sustainability


matrix 3: Patterns of Growth

monetary policy i.w.s. as means of social integration

monetary policy i.w.s. as means of securing international sovereignty



matrix 4: Socio-Political System and Sovereignty

This taken together provides an analytical tool for looking at development and the welfare system

resource reference

value generation

patterns of growth

socio-political system and sovereignty

matrix 5: welfare system – analytical tool

An extension can be achieved by considering that this methodological framework is not necessarily limited to capitalist societies. Instead, it is possible to apply the same approach also to non-(“pre and Post”) capitalist societies, focusing on power-relationships (with the two dimensions of property and control).

capitalist mode of production

non-capitalist mode of production

control of means of production
control of processes of production
control of products
control of the distribution of products

matrix 6: Dimensions of Property

[1]            Degree to which the economic process is focussed on extended reproduction