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The specificity of manufacturing in Marx's economic thought

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This article examines Marx's approach to manufacturing and the extent to which manufacturing could be considered to have a special place in Marx's economic thought, especially in relation to accumulation and growth. The important ‘progressive’ features of manufacturing that can be found in Marx's writings and which are discussed here include: division of labour; socialisation of labour; mechanisation; increasing returns to scale; learning-by-doing; technological advancement; and overall, superior potential for cumulative productivity increases. These insights anticipate some of the thinking around the specificity of manufacturing found in twentieth-century structuralist development economics and some heterodox schools of thought such as Kaldorian approaches. This article suggests an interpretation of Marx as having a two-dimensional conceptualisation of activity specificity, with not only sectoral but also ‘technological–organisational’ dimensions, where these two dimensions are not fully independent of each other.
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Keywords: B14; B31; B51; L60; Marx; O14; cumulative causation; growth; manufacturing; sector specificity

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2013

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