reserve army of labour


Also found in: Wikipedia.

reserve army of labour

unemployed workers, their number continuously renewed within capitalism, who by competing for jobs help to depress wages. In Marxism, the existence of this group is held to tend to force wages down to subsistence levels. Marxists, however, acknowledge that, in practice, a tendency to immiseration from this source is offset by a number of counteracting tendencies, including trade union action, which have increased the ‘historical and moral’ element in the value of labour power. Nevertheless, that unemployment remains a factor in the bargaining power possessed by labour, is seen in the correlation that exists between periods of full employment and wage increases and wage inflation.
References in periodicals archive ?
To be sure, there was a reserve army of labour located within the north too (capitalism can never function without one), which restrained northern wages; but its size being relatively small, its restraining influence on northern wages was not so absolute as to tie these wages down to some subsistence level.
One way of ensuring that there is no debauchment in the value of money is to have an adequate reserve army of labour which ensures that money wages do not increase autonomously.
Jamil Jonna suggest in a recent issue of Monthly Review, Marx's way of seeing class formation was much ahead of his time, anticipating how modern imperialism and the relentless march of capital accumulation on a world scale would result in the quantitative expansion and qualitative transformation of the global reserve army of labour.
The International Labor Organization has recently estimated that what might be called the global reserve army of labour is now larger than the approximately 1.
The role of the reserve army of labour regulates the level of wages and therefore the level of effective demand.
In the main, women are employed as cheap labour, easily dispensable, still seen as a reserve army of labour often employed on temporary contracts or part-time, relief workers.
The dilemma is, paradoxically, located in the coexistence of a significant and socially mobile middle class of Indian professionals and business people who have been able to hold their own despite the racially discriminatory New Economic Policy (NEP) implemented in the early 1970s and the majority of Tamil proletariat whose position as a reserve army of labour living in poverty has remained unchanged, relatively speaking, since they first arrived to work in the estates.
Turning from the realm of consumption to that of production, commentators of a radical bent would use the term social exclusion to indicate the social redundancy of large sections of the poor who no longer even function as a reserve army of labour.
In doing so, she indicates the numerous problems with Braverman's thesis about women as a reserve army of labour used by gender-blind employers to replace men and their higher wages.
Either way, the capitalists would be deprived of the reserve army of labour, so important to strike-breaking and maintaining low wages.
Along came almost $16 billion in orders for the industry in January, compared with $8 billion in December, but the lost 10,000 were still to report for their tour of duty in the reserve army of labour.
For example, Lavalette scrutinizes the two dominant and competing economic explanations for child labour -- that child labour is the result of family poverty and most prevalent in declining regions or, on the other hand, that children are a reserve army of labour to be drawn on in expanding regi ons when more workers are needed -- and finds them wanting.