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Economic exploitation

Parent genre: economy - exploitation

Exploitation has two distinct meanings, one which is neutral and another which is pejorative.

Related: Marxism

Neutral usage

The act of utilizing something for any purpose. In this case, exploit is a synonym for use: e.g. the author has the right to exploit his copyrights in the way he chooses.

Pejorative usage

The act of utilizing something in an unjust, cruel or selfish manner for one's own advantage. It is this meaning of exploitation which is discussed below: [Feb 2006]

In political economy, economics, and sociology, exploitation refers to an economic or social relationship in which some organization or institution treats human beings as a resource with little or no consideration for their well-being. To social theorists, "exploitation" usually does not include simple theft, which is not a persistent economic or social relationship; nor do they refer to a relationship between individuals, as when a pimp "exploits" his prostitute. Rather, exploitation involves some persistent aspect of the socioeconomic system, an institution. In ethical terms, on the other hand, "exploitation" to any treatment of a human being, or any living creature, as a means to an end, i.e., as an object. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exploitation [Jun 2005]

Marx: economic exploitation [...]

The bourgeoisie own the means of production and exploit the proletariat. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exploitation [Jun 2005]

Marx sees that we gain such a fetish for commodities that we give up all control. We do not control how the job is done, we do not control how the product is produced, priced, distributed or chosen, and we begin to compete as rivals for these commodities. This loss of control produces a Hegelian alienation which Marx, as a Young Hegelian, transforms into exploitation when he begins to look at the social structures that account for alienation. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exploitation [2004]


It is in this sense that Karl Marx argues that "prostitution is only a specific expression of the general prostitution of the labourer," and hence casts the capitalist as white slaver.

The earliest such use I have found is Richard Oastler's A Letter on the Horrors of White Slavery (Leeds: J. Smithson, 1830); the latest is Wile Britton's The White Slavery; a Study of the Present Trades Union System (1909). Quotation from Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, quoted in Joan Wallach Scott, Gender and the Politics of History (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), 223. --via http://userwww.sfsu.edu/~epf/1996/wslavery.html [Jun 2005]

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