While I appreciate Marx’s analysis of industrial commodities (I can honestly say I have never thought so much about linen in my life). Thinking about the process of value, prices, and their relation to wages left me wondering how elements of this theory play out in a more service oriented economy. Marx seems to suggest these services are still commodities, as he notes that even things totally without value, such as an individual’s honor, may be sold and consumed (p. 197). However, when receiving haircut, having a mechanic service your car, receiving medical treatment, you may have the same time of labor performed for you, but the price of the labor is entirely different. Even if we controlled for all of the materials consumed during the service (rent, tools, x-ray film), it seems that the doctor’s hour is worth more than the stylist’s hour simply on account of the profession and title. Do these services have different value because of the training? Are we paying now for all of the value of accumulated medical school? Or is there some other force, beyond labor based value, that alters the price of these services?
Or instead of thinking of these as commodities, are we truly just paying wages? if that is the case, why does the doctor or the mechanic not have the same race to the bottom as the industrial laborer? I am additionally troubled by thinking of service economy simply as wages because this labor does have direct use value to us, suggesting we consume it like other commodities. While these questions may not have been as central to Marx, as the service economy was not as fully developed, I hope for some further discussion of these ideas, as I could not get passed them as we read the accounts of industrial commodities. Thus I look forward to our discussion of the evolution of Marx’s theories of capital as we apply them to an era less dominated by industrial labor.