The aim of the chapter is to highlight that Ricardo’s and Marx’s analysis of the introduction of machinery raises relevant theoretical issues that go well beyond the problems of adjustment, though they are important, to new technologies. After arguing that the introduction of machinery is compatible with an increase in net income (profits) and a reduction in gross income, on which the level of employment depends, Ricardo concludes that the possibility of a (partial) recovery of employment depends on how the net income is spent (i.e. how the profits are spent). Even considering that new capital is invested in machinery, with the consequence that the accumulation of capital gives rise to an increase in demand for labour, the latter, however, is in a necessarily decreasing ratio with respect to the investment. Marx introduces three new elements: the capitalist use of machinery, the direct and indirect effects of the introduction of machinery on employment coefficients, and the cascade effects due to the introduction of machinery in the connected sectors (considering both backward and forward linkages). In particular, Marx's rich and complex analysis of the relationship between machinery and labour in Grundrisse is examined. The analysis of the contributions of Ricardo and Marx suggests the need for a critical assessment of the current debate on the issues raised by the specific character of the digital revolution.

Is automation beneficial for society as a whole? What we can learn re-reading Ricardo and Marx on machinery and labour / Bonifati, Giovanni. - (2019), pp. 203-218.

Is automation beneficial for society as a whole? What we can learn re-reading Ricardo and Marx on machinery and labour

Bonifati, Giovanni
2019

Abstract

The aim of the chapter is to highlight that Ricardo’s and Marx’s analysis of the introduction of machinery raises relevant theoretical issues that go well beyond the problems of adjustment, though they are important, to new technologies. After arguing that the introduction of machinery is compatible with an increase in net income (profits) and a reduction in gross income, on which the level of employment depends, Ricardo concludes that the possibility of a (partial) recovery of employment depends on how the net income is spent (i.e. how the profits are spent). Even considering that new capital is invested in machinery, with the consequence that the accumulation of capital gives rise to an increase in demand for labour, the latter, however, is in a necessarily decreasing ratio with respect to the investment. Marx introduces three new elements: the capitalist use of machinery, the direct and indirect effects of the introduction of machinery on employment coefficients, and the cascade effects due to the introduction of machinery in the connected sectors (considering both backward and forward linkages). In particular, Marx's rich and complex analysis of the relationship between machinery and labour in Grundrisse is examined. The analysis of the contributions of Ricardo and Marx suggests the need for a critical assessment of the current debate on the issues raised by the specific character of the digital revolution.
Economic Policy, Crisis and Innovation: Beyond Austerity in Europe
edited by i Maria Cristina Marcuzzo, Antonella Palumbo and Paola Villa
9780429291142
Routledge
REGNO UNITO DI GRAN BRETAGNA
Is automation beneficial for society as a whole? What we can learn re-reading Ricardo and Marx on machinery and labour / Bonifati, Giovanni. - (2019), pp. 203-218.
Bonifati, Giovanni
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11380/1186792
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