Works, Products, and the Division of Labour: Notes for a Cultural and Political Economic Critique

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  2. Dr Matt Davies
Author(s)Davies M
Editor(s)Best, J; Paterson, M
Publication type Book Chapter
Book TitleCultural Political Economy
Series TitleRIPE Series in Global Political Economy
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Henri Lefebvre argues that products can be distinguished from works: products are the outcomes of repetitive acts, while works have a “unique” and irreplaceable character. Products and production thus become routinized, banal parts of everyday life, while works are understood as works of art, a specialized “higher” activity separated from everyday life. This distinction is reflected in Raymond Williams’ etymological elaboration of three distinct meanings of “culture” in Keywords. What are the material foundations for these distinctions, and what are the implications these have for a “cultural turn” in International Political Economy? This paper will examine these related distinctions as the historical outcomes of the development of the mental/manual division of labour. In so doing, it will argue that a “cultural turn” for International Political Economy must situate its critique in materialist terms, not hypostatising “culture” as codes, values, or discourse but as embodied and historically determined practice.
Place PublishedLondon
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