Nonproduction Sphere

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Nonproduction Sphere


the aggregate of sectors of the national economy that satisfy the various nonmaterial needs of people and of society as a whole. These needs reduce to the organization and conduct of the exchange, distribution, and consumption of material goods; the production of certain forms of spiritual wealth; and the comprehensive development of the human personality, including the preservation and strengthening of health. The nonproduction sphere satisfies both the social needs of the individual and those of society viewed as a single social organism.

According to the Central Statistical Administration of the USSR and Gosplan, the following are included in the nonproduction sphere: housing, municipal and household services, passenger transport, communications that serve public organizations or nonproduction activities among the population, health, physical culture, social security, education, culture, art, science and scientific services, administration, and public organization in general.

Most employment in the nonproduction sphere occurs in education, culture, and health, that is, in the sectors that produce the particular objects of consumption that K. Marx called services. These objects of consumption, which lack physical form, are used as they are produced. As they do not assume physical form, they cannot be accumulated or counted as part of national income; rather they are included in society’s personal consumption fund.

The labor of workers who perform such services has direct human effect. It contributes to reproduction of the labor force, where expenditures to satisfy nonmaterial needs are constantly rising. However, such labor by workers in education, culture, and health is not included in the costs of reproducing the work force. Instead, these costs are shown as the labor expended by material production workers that is allocated toward meeting needs for education, culture, and medical care. In exchange for this portion of necessary product, workers in material production receive the benefits of the labor of workers in the nonproduction sphere. Unlike material output, the benefits gained from the labor of workers in the nonproduction sphere, especially in education and culture, have social coloration. While it may be impossible to tell by the taste of wheat whether it was produced by a slave or a free hired worker, education and culture take on ideological content as an essential element. Labor by workers in the nonproduction sphere emerges as productive labor if it conforms to the prevailing production relationships and achieves the goal of the corresponding mode of production.

The development of the nonproduction sphere depends on the level of productivity achieved by workers in material production. The higher the level of productivity, the greater the amount of labor and material resources that society can allocate to the nonproduction sphere. Thus countries with differing levels of development of productive forces but with identical rates of employment in the nonproduction sphere will have sharply differing sectorial structures. The higher a country’s level of development, the more progressive the structure of its nonproduction sphere.

The nature and scale of the nonproduction sphere are determined by the system of prevailing production relationships. In the capitalist countries, the high level of development of the nonproduction sphere is a consequence not only of the development of productive forces but also of the parasitism inherent in capitalism. Evidence of this can be seen in the bloating of such nonproduction sectors as trade (for example, advertising), management, credit, and finance. The state’s military and police apparatus, through which the monopoly bourgeoisie tries to preserve the capitalist system, also accounts for growth in the non-production sphere. Relatively insignificant sums go to such sectors of the nonproduction sphere as health and education. The development of the nonproduction sphere is subject to the basic economic law of capitalism—the production and acquisition of surplus value. Bourgeois economics includes the nonproduction sphere as part of the infrastructure.

In the socialist countries, the development of the nonproduction sphere is aimed at raising the well-being of the working people and at comprehensive development of the human personality. As society progresses through the interaction of social activity and material production, the nonproduction sphere exerts a growing influence on the development of productive forces and the raising of the productivity of social labor.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Today the weekly data on unemployment, and also the Composite index by ISM for the nonproduction sphere is to come out in the U.S.
Influence of economic factors of formation of demand for labor force at the regional level the great role is played by the intermediary nature of a certain territorial unit in the industrial structure, including complex at the level of economic development of production and nonproduction spheres with programs of modernization and technical re-equipment of the economics (Asaliyev, A.M., 2012).