Chapter 40: Exploitation and surplus
Exploitation has a number of meanings in social economics, the most common being ‘unfairly utilizing a human being – or groups of human beings – for advantage’, due to the value of output produced by labour being greater than the wage. Scholars may call this process ‘exploitation’, based on their labour and/or institutional theory, even though these scholars realize that such ‘exploitation’ may be considered fair, according to the ethical and/or legal system dominant in the social formation under question. Such societies generate theories to justify the exploitation; usually within capitalism it is the business of orthodox economics to do this justifying: this is indeed one of orthodoxy’s most important tasks (see O’Hara, 1997, pp. 70–76). Specifically, this work links exploitation with social surplus, in particular total aggregate surplus product, surplus value, economic surplus or profit. The surpluses of some societies are larger than others. For instance, the surplus of hunter-gatherer societies may be only seasonal or cyclical, since such people prefer leisure and/or they fail to have the productive capacity to produce a sustainable surplus. In any case, there is not usually a large parasitic class to support from the surplus (Sanderson, 1991, pp. 250–51). A surplus becomes more necessary in class societies, such as slavery, feudalism and capitalism.
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