Re: [OPE] Services (->Paula)

From: <>
Date: Tue Jan 13 2009 - 19:50:07 EST

Hi Paula and Ian,
It seems to me that all the products of labour are material, they all
require material labour to be produced and produce material effects, as
Ian points out. The difference is that services - following Marx's
analysis of the transport industry - are products of labour whose
specificity is that they are consumed while they are produced, that is,
they do not exist as independent objects that can be transported and
stored before being consumed. One may also say that the products of labour
are of two kinds: ones are objects, the others are activities, such as
haircutting or preaching. Thus, a service has value and is as
commensurable and exchangeable as the objects, which is expressed in the
fact that they have prices, ie, they are exchangeable for money, the
universal commodity.

> Hi Paula
>> My view is that it *does* matter
>> whether or not "material objects" are produced, since abstract labor
>> must be
>> embodied in commodities that, regardless of their use-value, are
>> exchangeable with each other on the market, and therefore have an
>> objective
>> existence between the moment of production and the moment of
>> consumption. A
>> service, on the other hand, is a use-value (come to think of it, a
>> stricter
>> definition would be: a service is the realization of use-value); it's
>> not a
>> value, and therefore it's not exchangeable or commensurable with other
>> products; it has no objective existence separately from the act of
>> consumption.
> I pay the barber to cut my hair. He cuts my hair and produces a
> haircut on my head, which has an objective existence distinct from the
> act of haircutting. The haircut exists long after this exchange of
> labor and money.
> I pay a priest for admittance to his Sunday service. He preaches to me
> and produces some ideas in my head, which have an objective existence
> distinct from the act of preaching. My Christian-minded ideas persist
> long after this exchange of labor and money.
> Define "material objects". Suggest clear, classificatory criteria for
> distinguishing between products of labor that are to count as
> "material" and products that should not.
> Best,
> -Ian.
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Received on Tue Jan 13 19:44:12 2009

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