The Commodity Status of Labor Power

  • Bengt Furåker


Individuals who offer their labor power for hire in the market commonly do so to support themselves; in the absence of other means of subsistence paid employment represents a crucial option to earn a living. In countries with a developed welfare state, citizens will be taken care of even if they refuse to work; at least in principle, no one will be allowed to starve. People are nevertheless under pressure to offer their labor power in the market, not primarily to avoid starvation but to survive at a ‘normal’ or even ‘poor’ standard of living. There is definitely a limit to the generosity provided; in contemporary affluent capitalism, with certain exceptions, working-age individuals cannot as a rule avoid gainful employment without suffering substantial income loss. Although many argue that it is not punitive enough, the welfare state does not entirely eliminate the economic pressure upon individuals who have nothing else on which to survive but their laboring capacities.


Labor Market Welfare State Unemployment Benefit Unemployment Insurance Labor Market Policy 
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© Bengt Furåker 2005

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  • Bengt Furåker

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