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Subsumption and Crisis
Subsumption and Crisis
Joshua Clover

Though it has various senses in general usage, subsumption is a term of art within Marx’s critical political economy.1 It is subdivided into formal subsumption and real subsumption. These designate changes to the production process during the transition to, and ongoing development of, capitalism. These changes in aggregate may be understood as the metamorphosis of human making into capitalist labor, in the sense of work conditioned and ceaselessly transformed by the compulsion to extract surplus value, capital’s ‘invisible essence’. As such they also produce and transform the capitalist class relation.

The consequences of this ongoing transformation are various and central to Marx’s systematic and historical account. They include changes in the experience of work for ...

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