“Primitive Accumulation, Migrant Workers and Social Reproduction in the Age of Austerity”: David McNally


The Age of Austerity ushered in by the global crisis of 2008-9 centrally involves cheapening the reproduction of labour-power by means of reducing both private wages and the social wage administered by the state. These policies have decided class, gender, racial and generational dimensions. To properly elucidate these dimensions, however, requires that we also grasp ongoing primitive accumulation as a crucial ‘moment’ in the austerity agenda. To accomplish this means addressing the role of the reproduction of the global reserve army of labour, and of precarious migrant workers, in the restructuring of labour-power on a world scale.


In order to develop the theory of primitive accumulation in these directions, this paper returns to tensions in Marx’s account of the social reproduction of labour-power. Here I argue that not only does Marx’s conceptualization require a gender analysis, but that it also needs to be developed with respect to the problematic of…

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