Work force

economic-dictionary

The workforce is the ability both physical and intellectual to be able to develop a productive activity. It was a concept coined by Karl Marx (we will refer to the ideas of this thinker throughout the article).

That is to say, the work force is that mental and motor capacity of a person to be able to carry out an occupation.

It should be noted that the labor force, together with the means of production (materials and mechanical and technological instruments necessary for production), is part of the productive processes to develop the goods and services that a society demands.

It is also worth mentioning that the remuneration for the workforce is the salary (we will delve into this later).

Difference between labor force and labor

Karl Marx differentiates between work and labor power. The first is the result or realization of the second. That is, work is the result of a person's work, obtaining a commodity. Instead, labor power is the effort applied to the task.

We can understand it better with an example. A person dedicated to the manufacture of footwear. The workforce is the skills and knowledge that has been dedicated to their work, in a certain time. Instead, work is the pair of shoes that hit the market.

Labor power as a commodity

Taking into account what has been explained above, according to Marx, the worker sells his labor power to the capitalist, not his work, functioning as a commodity. In return, the worker receives remuneration.

This has an important implication because, from the point of view of Marxism, the worker is selling his effort. However, the value of this is less than the value of what it produces (the merchandise). Thus, the difference between the value of labor power and the value created by the worker is what Marx and Engels call surplus value.

For Marx, moreover, the worker is in some way obliged to sell his labor power to the capitalist because he owns the means of production. For this reason, according to this theory, the means of production cannot remain less private, but should be collective.

Another important issue to note is that, according to Marx, it was from capitalism that workers began to sell their labor power as a commodity. Previously, when the economic system was based on slavery, for example, slaves could not offer their labor power in exchange for payment.

Also, in feudal times, the relationship between the feudal lord and his servants was less unequal than with slaves. However, the serf was quite limited and could not decide freely, for example, to leave the lands he occupied without first negotiating with his lord.

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