[OPE] Manufacturing Discontent

From: michael perelman <michael@ecst.csuchico.edu>
Date: Thu Jun 03 2010 - 05:31:09 EDT

The World Association for Political Economy gave 8 awards for
outstanding achievement in political economy in the 21st century. My
book, Manufacturing Discontent, received one of them. Here is the brief
note, which I wrote for the occasion:

Manufacturing Discontent is a study of social relations, not Marx's
social relations of production, but the social relations -- real or
imagined -- of the people who live and work under the yoke of
capitalism. In this sense, the book is meant as a modest supplement to
Kapital, which was a deep analysis of the social relations of the
extraction of surplus value from the working class.

A longstanding project of capital is to shape virtually every aspect of
people's lives in order to meet its needs. For example, as part of the
management of the interaction of social relations inside and outside the
workplace, spokesmen of capital tell workers that they should identify
themselves as consumers instead of as workers. Rebellion against
degrading and debilitating exploitation at the workplace is foolish;
instead, intelligent workers should embrace their jobs, by identifying
their work as a welcome opportunity to enjoy the benefits of
consumption. In effect, the circuits of consumption and reproduction
become harnessed to the social relations of production.

These social relations also help to determine the quantity of surplus
value. For example, one dimension of this process is the management of
the burdens of risk. Today we are reminded that when crises break out,
out the same workers are told that their wages, their consumption, or
their pensions are problems that must be corrected.

Michael Perelman
Economics Department
California State University
Chico, CA
530 898 5321
fax 530 898 5901
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Received on Thu Jun 3 05:39:47 2010

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