Capital Study Series: Session 6


  • Capital, Chapter 12 – The Concept of Relative Surplus-Value
  • Capital, Chapter 13 – Co-operation
  • Capital, Chapter 14 – Division of Labour and Manufacture


Optional Reading:

  • David Harvey, A Companion to Marx”s Capital, Chapter 6

Study Questions:

The questions below are borrowed from the Marxists Internet Archive and

  1. What is the significance of the struggle for a shorter working week?
  2. How do you explain the growing army of part-time workers today, if the capitalists need to get us working longer and longer hours?
  3. What is the effect on the reproduction of labor power if the wage is reduced to less than the value of labor power? What concrete effects might this involve today? Why does Marx exclude this case from consideration in this chapter?
  4. How does Marx define the productivity of labor? How does its increase cause a decrease in the per unit value of products?
  5. Increases in the productivity of labor producing which goods cause a fall in the value of labor power? Directly? Indirectly?
  6. What are the motives for the individual capitalist to introduce technological change that increases productivity?
  7. Juxtapose and contrast capitalist co-operation with pre-capitalist co-operation, both that based on traditional community solidarity and that based on coercion.
  8. What does Marx mean by the “average social labor time”? How can it be measured?
  9. How does the factory or collective workshop realize increasing returns to scale for the capitalist? How does this reduce his unit costs of production?
  10. What does Marx mean by the “two-fold origin of manufacture”? How does this relate to the way manufacture is developing today?
  11. As the capitalist assembles and puts to work increasing numbers of workers, what do those workers do? How does this involve a political recomposition of the class?
  12. What is the impact of specialization in manufacturing on the tools used by workers and how does this pave the way for the rise of machinery?
  13. What does Marx mean by “the collective worker”? What is the origin of this “item of machinery”? Why does Marx use this latter term?
  14. What are the technical origins of the wage hierarchy? How does Marx explain this in terms of the value of labor power? What is the impact of specialization and deskilling on the value of labor power? Thus on surplus value?