An Autonomist Marxist Perspective on Productive and Un-productive Academic Labour

  • Krystian Szadkowski Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań
Keywords: capital, productive/unproductive labour, academic labour, higher education, Marx


This article starts with a diagnosis of the inadequacy of the dispossession theory for the analysis of the relationship between capital involved in academic publishing and academic labour. It assumes that it is necessary to develop a Marxian theory of productive and unproductive labour within the field of higher education. For this purpose, an Autonomist Marxist perspective on productive labour is proposed, to facilitate analysis of the contemporary subsumption of academic labour under capital, and to organise resistance against it. The essence of this approach is rooted in an exposition of the two-sided perspective on Marxist categories of the critique of political economy. It is used here to approximate the concept of directly productive academic labour and to indicate its apparent limitations. The next step is to present a view on the systemic productivity of academic labour. This is the only way to address the issue of truly productive academic work in the Marxian sense, and the obstacles standing in the way to its full implementation, the key to which is the smooth functioning of capitalist measurement exercised within the field of science and higher education.