Capital and the Work Ethic
AbstractIn emphasizing the problem of "habituation" as a central and continuing problem for capital, Harry Braverman, in Labor and Monopoly Capital, has opened an important debate, only partly entered into by Marx himself. While Marx's central project in Capital was to analyze the ways in which competitive capitalism was able to reproduce the means of production fundamental to its epoch, the concomitant problem of reproducing the relations of production was only incidentally considered. As Braverman points out, capital has to renew, with each generation, its attempt to habituate workers to a capitalist mode of production. Young workers are "plunged into work from the outside, so to speak, after a prolonged period of adolescence during which they are held in reserve." The need for capital or the state to instill and reproduce acceptance of an industrial work ethic is not, however, a problem solely confined to young workers.
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