The knowledge economy and labour power in late capitalism

Peter K. Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


This paper offers a Marxist critique of the prevailing view that the knowledge economy marks a decisive shift in capitalism away from the exploitation of labour and argues instead that the knowledge economy is part of the broader transition of value relations under late capitalism, which manifests most clearly in the increasing difficulties late capitalism experiences in containing the power of social labour. Drawing out this argument the paper considers the recent mass expansion of UK post-compulsory education. Contrary to the view that post compulsory education is a functional response to the needs of a knowledge economy, it is argued that the expansion is a function of the need to control through containment the power of social labour.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-837
Number of pages17
JournalCritical Sociology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2010


  • capitalism in transition
  • critical political economy
  • knowledge economy
  • immaterial labour
  • value relations


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