Re: [OPE-L] domestic labor

From: Jerry Levy (jerry_levy@VERIZON.NET)
Date: Tue Jan 15 2008 - 12:31:39 EST

Comrades,  In the context of this debate on 'domestic service', may I suggest you to visit the website where you find an article by Ranganyakamma titled: HOUSE WORK AND OUTSIDE WORK.  Also, I may remind those who have already read Ranganayakamma's book 'An Introduction to Marx's 'Capital' (in 3 volumes), that there is a long(est) chapter on 'Productive Labour and Unproductive Labour' in volume two.

Dear Bapuji and Ranganayakamma:

Thank you for calling our attention to these references - they are certainly relevant for the current discussion.

A brief comment and a question:


I very much agree with Ranganayakamma's position that the

       " 'Productive - Unproductive' distinction is specific
         to the 'Capitalist Society' " (HW&OW, 62-64).

I don't think that some others on this list, including Paul C
and Dave Z, will agree with us.  My only comment at this time is that if there is disagreement on that issue then there will be disagreement on related issues so it forms (at least one) root cause of disagreement.


There was much discussion in Volume II, Chapter 5 of _An Introduction to Marx's 'Capital'_ concerning different forms of domestic labouring relationships.  For instance, some of the relationships discussed included:

* unpaid cooking labour where the product was directly consumed
and hence was never sold;
* paid cooking labour in capitalist households where the employer was the capitalist household;
* paid cooking labour in working-class households where the employer was the working-class family;
* cooks employed as wage-workers by restaurants/hotels to cook in the restaurants/hotels.

But, unless I am mistaken, the specific relationship I asked Paul C about was not discussed.

Suppose there are (and indeed, there are) capitalist firms which hire wage-workers and then sell a cooking service to be performed in customers' households.  The employer in this situation is the firm; the customer pays monies directly to the firm rather than the wage-worker.  Obviously, the firm is going to charge a price which is in excess of its costs of production so that it can receive a profit.

* Are the wage-workers (the cooks) employed by these capitalist firms productive of surplus value?

* Does it matter (in terms of whether this labour is productive or unproductive of s) whether the firm's consumer is an individual capitalist household or a working-class household?

In solidarity, Jerry

> If domestic servants are wage-workers
> employed by a capitalist firm why is the activity unproductive?

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.5 : Thu Jan 31 2008 - 00:00:06 EST