Capital Study Series: Session 5


  • Capital, Chapter 10 – The Working-Day
  • Capital, Chapter 11 – Rate and Mass of Surplus-Value


Optional Reading:

Study Questions:

The questions below are borrowed from

  1. Explain what determines the maximum and minimum limits to the working day.
  2. Discuss the argument that the concept of the length of the working day should be understood to include not only the phase of production but also activities of reproduction. What is “free” time? How can we tell if it is really free?
  3. What parallels can you find today to the murderous conditions of work in many English industries in the 19th Century? Are they, too, associated with working too long?
  4. What will be the effect on capitalist attempts to impose long hours of labor of the ready availability of large amounts of unemployed cheap labor? What will be the effects on the lives of workers? What conclusions might one draw for immigration policy?
  5. What does this chapter tell us about competition among capitalists?
  6. Discuss the international ramifications of working class success in struggling over working time in a given country — but not in all. Discuss this, in particular, in a contemporary context in the light of the multinational corporation.
  7. Discuss Marx”s analysis of workers who embody both elements of the working class (they work) and elements of the capitalist class (they impose work on somebody). Does this make sense to you for the period Marx is describing? Does it make sense to you today, in your experience and what you know of the corporate wage hierarchy?
  8. How might Hegel”s view of quantitative changes becoming qualitative changes apply to the emergence of capitalism as a whole as well as to the emergence of the particular capitalist or capitalist company? Think about the quantitative growth of the elements of capital, such as money, or people available for waged work, etc.