Joan Robinson’s intelligible Marxism and The Accumulation of Capital: a generalisation of the two-sector reproduction scheme

Trigg, Andrew B. (2023). Joan Robinson’s intelligible Marxism and The Accumulation of Capital: a generalisation of the two-sector reproduction scheme. Cambridge Journal of Economics (Early access).

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/cje/bead038

Abstract

Joan Robinson sought to make Marx’s economics intelligible to both academic colleagues and followers of Marx, in a twofold approach. First, she adopted Kalecki’s antipathy to the labour theory of value and his insights (following Rosa Luxemburg) into realisation problems in the schemes of reproduction; second, following Sraffa’s reading of Ricardo, she recognised the importance of surplus production as an alternative to neoclassical theory: both culminating in a stripped down two-sector scheme her mature work, The Accumulation of Capital. This scheme is recast here as an input–output framework, providing a generalisation that addresses some of its limitations: the need for an interface with the Kahn/Keynes employment multiplier, the absence of circulating capital inputs, and the lack of a systematic treatment of prices. Furthermore, a somewhat surprising result is the derivation of a core role for Marx’s category of surplus value in the employment multiplier derived from Robinson’s system.

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