Explanation of exploitation

“Erik Olin Wright (1997) has argued that exploitation in its Marxian sense is based on three principles. First, exploitation occurs when the material welfare of one class is causally dependent upon the material deprivation of another. The capitalist class in modern societies could not exist without the deprivations of the working classes. Second, that causal dependence depends in turn on the exclusion of workers from key productive resources, especially property. Third, the mechanism through which both these features (causal dependence and exclusion) operate is appropriation of the labour of the exploited. The first two alone would just represent oppression; for exploitation (in the Marxian sense) to take place, the third condition must be present. Equally, appropriation is not the same thing as exploitation; the first two features, causal dependence and exclusion, must also be present as well as appropriation.”

“So exploitation in its Marxian sense, Wright and Callinicos help to make clear, is a historical, explanatory and ethical concept that revolves around certain (disputed) notions of class, labour and compulsion.”

Hesmondhalgh, D., 2010. User-generated content, free labour and the cultural industries. Ephemera: Theory and Politics in …, pp.267–284. Available at: [Accessed October 1, 2012].

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