Piero Sraffa: His Life, Thought and Cultural Heritage (Routledge Studies in the History of Economics)
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This is a lively, intellectual biography of a leading protagonist of 20th century culture and his relations with other protagonists, such as Gramsci, Keynes and Wittgenstein. The book includes an authoritative interpretation of his main work Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities, a survey of the debates which followed its publication, and hence of the subsequent research strategies undertaken by different 'Sraffian schools'
non-competitive market situations. If, for whatever reason, a condition of monopoly exists in the market (‘when, for example, nature has limited the quantity of soil necessary to the production of a particular sort of wine’) an exception arises to the principle of proportionality of prices to the value of the means of production employed in production. In such conditions capital yields more in one employment than in another. The price of a product produced under conditions of monopoly may then
but as an aspect of the general question of value, with distributive variables being simply the prices of a particular kind of commodities, namely the ‘factors of production’. Still other differences may emerge in aggregation (for instance, with the use of the category of ‘industries’ as 1 Traditional marginalist terminology uses interest and rate of interest instead of profit and rate of profits, as utilised by the classical economists and Sraffa. Here we follow Sraffa’s terminology. Critique
production. This relationship between labour and physical cost of production is quite clear, for instance in William Petty: cf. Roncaglia (1977, Chapter 8). In the Sraffa Papers there are a few, though often quoted, documents in which Sraffa shows negative appraisal of the transition from Petty’s physical costs to the labour theory of value: cf. for instance Sraffa Papers, D3/9.89 (quoted by Kurz and Salvadori 2000: 429): ‘It is a purely mystical conception that attributes to labour a special
distribution of income itself – there will no longer be any need to construct a single general model in which to include the various ‘pieces of analysis’ as fitting parts of a whole. Instead, each piece of analysis implies a distinct process of abstraction, belonging to its own ‘analytic area’, and no classification of decreasing generality can be determined between the various areas.27 A problem remains, concerning the internal consistency of the conceptual framework – or conception of the way
the same commodities included in the product, and the technology is given. When technology changes, if we rule out the entirely hypothetical case of an equi-proportional reduction in all the coefficients of production, relative prices also change. If the changes in technology were known ex ante, we would have continual arbitrage between current and future products, with a mechanism of forward prices and own interest rates which constitutes a theoretical contribution by Sraffa (1932) taken up by