AskProfWolff: Why Marx Differentiates "Productive" from "Unproductive Labor"

A Patron of Economic Update asks: "You mention three types of "actors" within the modern U.S. economy: productive, unproductive, and capitalist. Are unproductive workers those in fields such as information technology, business analysis, the law, doctors and other "white collar" or "grey collar", non-service fields? I assume productive workers are defined as those who engage in manual, or service, labor or work in manufacturing."

Learn more about Prof Wolff's new book, The Sickness is the System: When Capitalism Fails to Save Us from Pandemics or Itself, available now at

“A magnificent source of hope and insight.”
Yanis Varoufakis
Greek economist, academic, philosopher, politician, author of Talking to my daughter about the economy

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