Published by Crackers Books,

1 May 2024

Marx’s Labour Theory of Value (LTV): A Concise Overview

The Labour Theory of Value (LTV) is a fundamental concept in classical and Marxist economics, providing a framework for understanding the value of commodities in capitalist economies. Here's a concise overview based on recent academic research:

  1. Foundation in Classical Economics: The LTV originated in classical political economy and posits that the value of a commodity is determined by the labor time required for its production. This concept was developed by economists like Adam Smith and David Ricardo and later refined by Karl Marx (Foley, 1982)(Foley, 1982).
  2. Marx's Refinement and Critique of Capitalism: Marx expanded on the LTV to critique capitalist modes of production. He argued that the value of commodities is related to the "socially necessary labor time" for their production and that surplus value (profit) is derived from the exploitation of labor (Murray, 2000)(Murray, 2000).
  3. Debate and Criticism of LTV: The LTV has been subject to significant debate and criticism, particularly regarding its empirical applicability and relevance in modern economies. Critics argue that factors other than labor, such as technology and capital, also contribute significantly to value creation (Mohun, 2000)(Mohun, 2000).
  4. Contemporary Applications and Interpretations: Modern economists have reinterpreted the LTV in various ways, including its application in analyzing income distribution, pricing, and economic exploitation in capitalist societies (Tsoulfidis & Maniatis, 2002)(Tsoulfidis & Maniatis, 2002).
  5. LTV as a Theoretical and Rhetorical Tool: The LTV continues to serve as both a theoretical framework for understanding economic systems and as a rhetorical tool in debates about economic justice and the nature of labor and value in capitalist societies (Herring & Longaker, 2014)(Herring & Longaker, 2014).

Conclusion: The Labour Theory of Value remains a cornerstone in the study of economics, offering insights into the nature of value, the role of labor in production, and the dynamics of capitalist economies, despite ongoing debates and evolving interpretations.


  • Foley, D. (1982). The Value of Money the Value of Labor Power and the Marxian Transformation Problem. Review of Radical Political Economics, 14, 37-47. Link.
  • Herring, W., & Longaker, M. (2014). Wishful, Rational, and Political Thinking: The Labor Theory of Value as Rhetoric. Argumentation and Advocacy, 50, 193-209. Link.
  • Mohun, S. (2000). New solution or re (in) statement? A reply. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 24, 113-117. Link.
  • Murray, P. (2000). Marx's ‘Truly Social’ Labour Theory of Value: Part II, How Is Labour that Is Under the Sway of Capital Actually Abstract? Historical Materialism, 7, 99-136. Link.
  • Tsoulfidis, L., & Maniatis, T. (2002). Values, prices of production and market prices: some more evidence from the Greek economy. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 26, 359-369. Link.