[OPE-L:1296] Re: Re: Re: Advertising and productive labour

From: Michael J Williams (michael@williamsmj.screaming.net)
Date: Mon Sep 20 1999 - 05:37:49 EDT

----- Original Message -----
From: Ian Hunt <Ian.Hunt@FLINDERS.EDU.AU>
To: <ope-l@galaxy.csuchico.edu>
Sent: Monday, September 20, 1999 3:08 AM
Subject: [OPE-L:1291] Re: Re: Advertising and productive labour

> I had thought it did matter [if the ad is out-sourced or done in-house] -
but maybe I am confused on this. If an
> advertising firm employs workers to produce adds, it is clearly as
> productive labour as any product and that product is sold by the firm. The
> product of course is waht Michael says it is, helping Coke/Pepsi sell
> Coke/Pepsi to thirsty people.

I agree that the productive nature of the advertising labour is most clear -
not only to the analyst but also to the participants (in their own
terminiology, of course) - in the case where a market transaction mediates
the relationship between Coke and its advertisers.

> But when an advertiser was employed in house,
> I fel that, while the service was the same, the product in this case is
> sold, and so there is no question of it having value, with part of it
> surplus value.

Well, we do have here a problem of operationalising our concepts. The
package that is marketted as 'Coke' is here produced by a collectivity of
labour (including advertising labour), without any market mediation. So
there is no commodity output of the marketting department. Nevertheless, the
presumption, imo, must be that in as much as the Coke corporation hires that
labour, it expects it to contribute towards its bottom line, to
valorisation. I.e., it is, in principle productive in making a direct
contribution to surplus value.

The operationalising problem is broadly the same as that faced by orthodox
marginal productivity theory of wage determination - how to empirically
disaggegate the contributions to valorisation of the different kinds of
cooperating concrete labours required to produce the commodity output.

> I would say the same about intermediate goods. Sugar is
> purchased by Coke and its cost is recovered in the product, but the labour
> in producing sugar is productive for the producer of sugar, not coke.

Sure, but this is a flawed analogy. The true (truer?) analogy would be if
suger-producing labour were employed in-house by Coke. I.e, if there was
vertical integration internalising specialised sugar production as a step in
the Coke production process. Then that labour would be part of the
collective labour, putatively productive, that produces Coke.

Your comment does raise an interesting way in which 'services' and 'physical
products' can differ in how they enter as intermediate products and into the
processes of vertical integration. This *seems* to be moving us towards Paul
C's suggested quasi-Sraffian characterisation of (un)productive labour, but,
so far, I am unpersuaded by that.

> But
> maybe I am confused...

Or maybe I am confusing ... !



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