Labour and Value: Rethinking Marx’s Theory of Exploitation - cover image


Ernesto Screpanti

Published On





  • English

Print Length

142 pages (viii+134)


Paperback156 x 8 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.31" x 9.21")
Hardback156 x 10 x 234 mm(6.14" x 0.38" x 9.21")


Paperback470g (16.58oz)
Hardback843g (29.74oz)

OCLC Number





  • H
  • HB
  • HBG


  • EDU016000
  • HIS000000
  • HIS037000
  • HIS054000
  • HIS039000


  • BJ1474.5


  • Marx’s theory of exploitation
  • Marxist thought
  • contemporary philosophy
  • economic theory
  • abstract labor
  • labor value
  • Marxist economics

Labour and Value

Rethinking Marx’s Theory of Exploitation

  • Ernesto Screpanti (author)
In this book Ernesto Screpanti provides a rigorous examination of Marx’s theory of exploitation, one of the cornerstones of Marxist thought. With precision and clarity, he identifies the holes in traditional readings of Marx’s theory before advancing his own original interpretation, drawing on contemporary philosophy and economic theory to provide a refreshingly interdisciplinary exegesis.

Screpanti’s arguments are delivered with perspicuity and verve: this is a book that aims to spark a debate. He exposes ambiguities present in Marx’s exposition of his own theory, especially when dealing with the employment contract and the notions of ‘abstract labor’ and ‘labor value’, and he argues that these ambiguities have given rise to misunderstandings in previous analyses of Marx’s theory of exploitation. Screpanti’s own interpretation is a meticulously argued counterpoint to these traditional interpretations.

Labour and Value is a significant contribution to the theory of economics, particularly Marxist economics. It will also be of great interest to scholars in other disciplines including sociology, political science, and moral and political philosophy. Screpanti’s clear and engaging writing style will attract the interested general reader as well as the academic theorist.


This is a very nice, tightly argued, interesting and thought-provoking book and a prime quality intellectual endeavour. Labor and value is likely to attract attention and stir debates. It is a rigorous piece of academic work but it is of interest to a much wider readership, also thanks to an exceptionally clear and engaging style. It is a strong contribution in economic theory – and in particular, in Marxian and more generally heterodox economics – but it has a refreshing interdisciplinary approach which will be of interest for scholars in other disciplines too, including moral and political philosophy, sociology and political science. Even those who disagree with the answers provided will find the questions raised of primary importance and the arguments subtle and original.

Roberto Veneziani

Queen Mary, University of London


Screpanti is right: workers are not golden-egg-laying geese, whose productivity remains constant wherever you put them. Rather, what enables the capitalist to extract surplus value from the worker is that productivity is endogenously determined, such that the capitalist can increase the duration and intensity of work to levels that will avail her of surplus value. So abstract labour is not a natural or monadic substance that will tend to manifest itself under any set of commodity-producing arrangements, but a relational property coextensive with the subordination of labour to capital. This makes the wage "the price of freedom, a payment for obedience, and not the value of a commodity”. Screpanti’s book contains a lucid elaboration of Marx’s theory of subsumption, to go along with a novel critical synthesis of Marx’s theory of value. Screpanti’s exegetical views are also right: a neglected but central aspect of Marx’s critique of political economy has to do with the diverse ways in which capital comes to control, and therefore dominate, the labour of others.

Nicholas Vrousalis, Erasmus University Rotterdam

"Review of Ernesto Screpanti’s Labour and Value: Rethinking Marx’s Theory of Exploitation". Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics (1876-9098), vol. 13, no. 1, 2020. doi:10.23941/ejpe.v13i1.472

Full Review


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(pp. 3–14)
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Ernesto Screpanti

Economics of Globalization and the History of Political Economy at University of Siena