Re: [OPE-L] the working class and the informal sector

From: michael a. lebowitz (mlebowit@SFU.CA)
Date: Sun Dec 12 2004 - 21:45:04 EST

At 21:04 12/12/2004, you wrote:
> >          I think those definitional criteria below are the easy ones.
>Michael L,
>Right.  I was just trying to determine what we agree on.
> > How
> > about people working in the sphere of circulation within the circuit of
> > capital who would choose to be wage-labourers if that option were present
> > but who are compelled to function as retail workers who must bear a risk
> > because they have no alternative?

I don't think you responded to the case I gave you. We can explore
exploiters within the informal sector subsequently.
         in solidarity,

>What people are we talking about?  For example, consider some informal
>sector cases  mentioned by Drakakis-Smith  (_The Third World City_) in
>which there are owners of pedicabs which are rented out daily to others
>who then operate the pedicabs to earn money or there is the case in which
>money is regularly advanced for itinerant food hawkers to make purchases at
>wholesale markets so that these peddlers can purchase the food that they
>will then cook and sell.  Drakakis-Smith thinks that these constitute
>exploitive relationships even though the exploiter is not a capitalist in
>the  traditional sense and indeed is poor and needs to do this this or
>otherwise  take on a different role within the informal sector in order to
>survive.  But,  the point I am making is that there is frequently
>exploitation  _within_ the sector by the poor  'entrepreneurs' and the
>laborers.  Are they _all_ part  of the working class? I don't think so.
>Are they _all_ part of the petty-bourgeoisie?  I don't think so -- although
>the 'entrepreneurs'  in the above cases who rent out means of production
>or advance money in exchange for more money are (very) petty-bourgeois,
>imo. What I object to is a tendency among some Marxists, it seems to me,
>to say that people are either capitalists or members of the working class.
>The reality of capitalist society and the degree of class stratification is
>more complex than that.  In any event, if one were to say that the poor
>who rent out pedicabs which are used as means of production or who
>borrow funds to purchase means of production are not part of the working
>class, does not imply that we should not support their struggles and build
>alliances with them.
>In solidarity, Jerry

Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6

Currently based in Venezuela. Can be reached at
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