Reduction of Labor

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Reduction of Labor


the objective process of reducing complex (skilled) labor to simple labor. All labor is distinguished by its degree of complexity, which depends on its content. Complex labor involves additional expenditures to train a skilled labor force and an increased use of labor power in production. It creates more value per unit of time than simple labor. Comparatively complex labor is simple labor raised a degree, or multiplied. In the exchange of commodities that are products of simple and complex labor, a smaller quantity of complex labor is equivalent to a larger quantity of simple labor. “A commodity may be the product of the most skilled labor, but its value, by equating it to the product of simple unskilled labor, represents a definite quantity of the latter labor alone” (K. Marx, in K. Marx and F. Engels, Sock, 2nd ed., vol. 23, p. 53).

In capitalist society, reduction of labor is a spontaneous social process that manifests itself in the exchange of commodities. Under socialism, where there is direct social labor, it is a planned process. Two basic tasks are linked to the reduction of labor. (1) The national economic labor-intensiveness of output in a given time must be calculated in order to improve the intersectoral balance of labor expenditures, to make a comparative analysis of the prices and labor-intensiveness of output, and to carry out other important economic calculations. (2) The qualifications required for different types of labor, based on the degree of complexity, must be worked out to improve the job evaluation scales for workers, an important means of organizing wages and ensuring uniformity in distribution according to work. The reduction factor may be calculated by such methods as comparing the socially necessary expenditures of labor to train workers with due regard for their skill level, establishing the ratio between the wage rates of workers belonging to different qualification groups, and making a comparative analysis of the complexity of the functions and factors in the labor process (the technological variant of the analytical method).


Marx, K. Kapital, vol. 1. In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 23, pp. 53, 183, 208–09.
Marx, K. Kapital, vol. 3. Ibid., vol. 25, part 3, p. 168.
Marx, K. K kritike politicheskoi ekonomii. Ibid., vol. 13, p. 17.
Engels, F. Anti-Dühring. Ibid., vol. 20, p. 318.
Strumilin, S. G. Problemy sotsializma i kommunizma ν SSSR. Moscow, 1961. Pages 174, 202.
Maier, V. F. Zarabotnaia plata ν period perekhoda k kommunizmu. Moscow, 1963. Pages 67–90.
Kapustin, E. I. Kachestvo truda i zarabotnaia plata. Moscow, 1964. Pages 116–251.
Moshenskii, M. G. Normirovanie truda i zarabotnaia plata. Moscow, 1971. Pages 55–60, 162–200.
Gomberg, Ia. I. Kvalifitsirovannyi trud i metody ego izmereniia. Moscow, 1972.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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