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, in economics
value, in economics, worth of a commodity in terms of other commodities, or in terms of money (see price). Value depends on both desirability and scarcity. The marginal theory of value, pioneered in the late 19th cent. by Leon Walras, Stanley Jevons, and Carl Menger, has been highly influential in economics. It takes account of both scarcity and desirability by holding that the total value of a good depends on the utility rendered by the last unit consumed. It developed in opposition to David Ricardo's earlier labor theory of value, which holds that the value of a good derives from the effort of production, based on supply. Ricardo asserted that the cost of production can be reduced to the cost of labor, either paid in wages or used as capital, the physical means of production. In the marginal theory of value, there is an exchange value, as Ricardo postulated, but there is also a use value, which signifies the utility of a given commodity for satisfying a human desire. This distinction is equally important in Marxian economics. Marginal theory is fundamental to modern economics, because it points out that both supply and demand have an impact on the price of a commodity.


See M. H. Dobb, Theories of Value and Distribution Since Adam Smith (1975); M. Allingham, Value (1983); B. Fine, ed., The Value Dimension (1986).

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The amount of light reflected by a hue. The greater the amount of light, the higher the value.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved


(MARXISM) the quantity of LABOUR POWER, measured in units of labour time, which is on average necessary to produce a commodity. This for Marx is the basis of exchange-value. See LABOUR THEORY OF VALUE, USE-VALUE AND EXCHANGE-VALUE.

Marx accepted, indeed it was central to his way of working, that value in his sense did not always correspond closely to actual prices (empirical exchange-values). His argument was, however, that these concrete forms of value stood in a systematic relation to value in his theoretical sense and that this best revealed the social relations underlying the workings of a capitalist economy, e.g. its dependence on EXPLOITATION (see also APPEARANCE AND REALITY).

This conception of value is a highly controversial one even within Marxism. Regarded by some as the essential core of Marx's theory of capitalist society by which this theory stands or falls, by others it is seen to involve conceptual problems in application that render it impossible to use empirically or simply wrong. The main alternative, an empirical conception of value adopted by mainstream ECONOMICS, is that value is determined simply by economic scarcity, i.e. by supply and demand.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



in painting and the graphic arts, a shade of a tone that expresses (in relationship with other shades) a certain quantity of light and shadow.

When applied to coloration in painting, the term “value” serves to designate each of the shades of a tone that are in a regular interrelationship and provide a sequential gradation of light and shadow within the limits of each color. The systematic use of value gradations (which marks the creative work of many of the greatest colorist painters, including D. Velàzquez, J. Vermeer, J. B. Chardin, C. Corot, V. I. Surikov, and I. I. Levitan) is one of the means that allows objects to be conveyed in their interrelationship with a milieu of light and air. It also permits the achievement of special depth and richness of coloration, as well as delicacy of color relations and transitions.


Fromanten, E. Starye mastera. [Moscow, 1966]. Pages 154-57. (Translated from French.)



(Russian, stoimost’), the social labor of commodity producers, embodied and materialized in a commodity.

Value is the social attribute of a thing, an attribute acquired in certain historical conditions—namely, in conditions of commodity production. It is created in production and manifested in exchange, when the commodity produced by the commodity producer is equalized with other commodities. Commodity producers are joined with one another in a system of social division of labor; they thereby work for one another, by virtue of which their labor takes on a social character. Differing from one another as use-values, the commodities being exchanged have one feature in common—that is, they are the products of labor, and labor that has been expended on their production constitutes their value. The proportion in which some commodities are exchanged for others is called the exchange-value. Thus, value manifests itself externally in the act of exchange, that is, in the exchange-value; the use-value of the commodity—the utility of a thing—becomes the bearer of exchange-value.

The magnitude of the value of a commodity is defined as the amount of labor socially necessary for production of the commodity; it is measured by work (labor) time. Since the various commodity producers expend an unequal amount of labor (time) on the production of one and the same commodity, the commodities have varied individual value. Since value embodies social labor, however, the social (market) value cannot be defined by individual expenditures of labor. Social value is defined as the socially necessary work time—the time expended on the manufacture of a commodity under socially normal conditions of production, and with the average degree of skill and intensity prevalent at the time—or it is defined as the time expended on the production of the basic mass of commodities of a given kind.

With private ownership, the proportions in which commodities are exchanged are spontaneously regulated by the socially necessary expenditures of labor (work time) in the process of competitive struggle (seeCOMPETITION). The complexity of labor also influences the magnitude of value. The magnitude of value is measured by the expenditures of simple labor that any unskilled worker is able to perform. In the exchange of commodities of different kinds, complex labor of all kinds is reduced to simple labor (seeREDUCTION OF LABOR). As a result, complex labor appears as multiplied simple labor, and in exchange, every hour of complex labor is equalized with a larger amount of simple labor.

W. Petty, A. Smith, and D. Ricardo laid the foundation for the labor theory of value. To K. Marx, however, belongs the credit for providing the labor theory of value with a highly consistent and comprehensive scientific grounding, and for drawing all the social and class conclusions therefrom.

Vulgar bourgeois political economy has attempted and is attempting to overthrow the labor theory of value. In bourgeois economics, for example, exchange-value is often treated as the expression of use-value. In this conception, the exchange proportions of commodities are determined not by the social labor expended but supposedly by the use-value of the commodity (seeMARGINAL UTILITY THEORY). Another theory of value, no less popular, treats value as the result of the effect of the three factors of production—land, labor, and capital (seePRODUCTIVITY, THEORIES OF).

In actuality, the amount of socially necessary labor expended on the production of a commodity determines the value of the commodity and the proportions in which one commodity is exchanged for another. “In general, the greater the productiveness of labor, the less is the labor time required for the production of an article, the less is the amount of labor crystallized in that article, and the less is its value” (K. Marx, in K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed. vol. 23, p. 49). Marx’ labor theory of value served as the basis for his theory of surplus value.

The simple, elementary, or accidental form of value was coterminous with the early stage of exchange, when exchange was accidental in character. A commodity whose value was expressed in another commodity assumed the relative form of value; a commodity in which the value of another was expressed assumed the equivalent form of value, that is, it was the equivalent of the first commodity. The relative form of value reflects primarily the homogeneity of the commodities being exchanged as the products of human abstract labor. In the stage of accidental exchange, a single, accidental commodity plays the role of equivalent.

With the first great social division of labor, namely, the separation of stock raising from crop cultivation, exchange became more regular, and livestock were systematically exchanged for other commodities, which appeared not as accidental equivalents but as particular equivalents, to which the livestock were equated. To this stage of exchange corresponded the total, or expanded, form of value, in which one commodity expressed its value in a whole series of other commodities.

As exchange became regular, the expanded form of value was gradually transformed into the general form of value, when from the world of commodities a single commodity was excluded to become equivalent to all other commodities—a universal equivalent. Only one commodity, in which all commodities expressed their value uniformly, played the role of universal equivalent. The universal equivalent possessed the character of universal exchangeability. Depending on the concrete conditions of production, various commodities fulfilled the function of universal equivalent—such as livestock, hides, and fish. When exchange transcended the bounds of the local market, there arose a need to restrict the function of the universal equivalent to a single commodity only—which now became money. To this stage of exchange corresponded the money-form of value.

The role of money initially fell to various commodities; finally, however, it was restricted to a single commodity—gold, whose properties made it eminently suited to fulfill the function of money. With the appearance of money, the value of all commodities is expressed in money, and commodities thereby acquire a price. In the market, under the impact of supply and demand, the price fluctuates around value (seeVALUE, LAW OF).

The value of a commodity expresses the value created by past labor and transferred, by concrete labor, from the expended means of production to a given commodity; it also expresses the new (newly created) value imparted by living labor to the commodity in a given production process. As production becomes technologically more advanced, the unit value of production generally falls, the share of past labor in value increases relatively, and the share of newly created value decreases. In every socioeconomic formation in which commodity production exists, the ratio of past and newly created value expresses the production relations specific to that formation.

Under capitalism, value consists of the constant capital (c) used in the production of a commodity; the variable capital (v), or that portion of the newly created value that is equivalent to the value of the labor power expended in the process of production; and the surplus value (m), or that portion of the newly created value that is appropriated without compensation by the capitalists. The social value of a commodity coincides with the actual social costs of production but differs from the capital costs of production by the magnitude of the surplus value. Under developed capitalism, as a result of the spontaneous redistribution of surplus value and the equalization of profits to an average profit, the value of commodities is transformed into the price of production.

Under socialism, value expresses socialist production relations. It is created and used in conditions in which public ownership of the means of production prevails and social production is organized in planned fashion. In socialist society, use-value becomes directly social value, that is, it is earmarked for the planned satisfaction of the growing needs of society. The organic unity of value and use-value manifests itself in the planning of production and sales of production—both in money and in kind—and in the use of value-forms for the calculation and evaluation of expenditures of social labor, for control of the production, distribution, and exchange of material goods, for the organization of material incentives, and for increasing the efficiency of production. Value expresses the value of the means of production expended (outlays of past, materialized labor), the value of the necessary product, and the value of the surplus product (outlays of living labor).

The socialist economy distinguishes between value and the prime cost of production. The difference between the two is the enterprise’s net income, or profit. Through planned pricing, value acts as a reference point for individual enterprises, one that indicates the average level of the social productivity of labor. The social unit value of production is lowered as the individual value at individual enterprises is reduced by the increased productivity of social labor. Enterprises that produce with outlays less than those socially necessary make greater profits, a portion of which is used, in accord with standards set by the state, to create economic incentive funds. Socialist society has an interest in lowering the unit value of production, since to do so is to ensure the means necessary for production development and higher standards of living.

Under socialism, the formation of value is an objective process, organized in planned fashion for the whole of society. The socialist state, once it establishes a need for a certain product and the social importance of that product, determines the enterprises and quantities in which the product is to be manufactured. It plans the expenditures of labor and of the means of production at every enterprise and organizes plan fulfillment, thereby exerting an influence on the amount of socially necessary work time and thus reducing work time. Under socialism, changes in the magnitude of value are the result of conscious human activity, planned and directed by the socialist state.

Value is a historical category, whose existence is derived from the commodity-money relations that will be overcome in full communism.


Marx, K. Kapital, vol. 1, chs. 1–3. In Soch., vol. 23.
Lenin, V. I. “Karl Marks.” Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 26, pp. 60–62.
Rozenberg, D. I. Kommentarii k l-omy tomy “Kapitala” K. Marksa. Moscow, 1961.
Zakon stoimosti i ego ispol’zovanie v nar. khoziaislve SSSR. Moscow, 1959.
Zakon stoimosti i ego rol’ pri sotsializme. Moscow, 1959.
Tovarno-denezhnye otnosheniia v sisteme planomerno organizovannogo sotsialisticheskogo proizvodstva. Moscow, 1971.




a term broadly used in the philosophical and sociological literature to indicate the human, social, and cultural significance of certain phenomena of the real world.

In essence, all the various objects of human activity, as well as all social relations and the natural phenomena that fall within their range, may be regarded as “value objects,” or the objects of value relations; in other words, they may be evaluated in terms, for example, of good and evil, truth and falsehood, beauty and ugliness, the permissible and the prohibited, or the just and the unjust. Such valuations may be graduated—that is, they may indicate different levels of the respective attribute. The methods and criteria used in the very process of evaluating the respective phenomena are crystallized in the social consciousness and in culture as “value subjects”; these value subjects—namely, attitudes and valuations, imperatives and prohibitions, or goals and projects that are expressed in the form of normative notions—serve as the compass points of human activity. Value objects and subjects are thus the two poles, as it were, of man’s value relationship to the world.

In the structure of human activity the value aspects are interrelated with the cognitive and volitional aspects; the value categories themselves express the “limiting” orientation of the knowledge, interests, and preferences of various social groups and individuals. The evolving rational cognition of society, which includes an examination of the nature and origin of values, affects the entire range of value relations, preventing such relations from assuming the character of metaphysical absolutes. Marxism rejects the idealist conceptions of the ahistorical and suprasocial nature of values, emphasizing the social, practical, historical, and cognizable nature of human values, ideals, and norms.

Every specific historical form of social organization may be described in terms of a specific set and hierarchy of values. Such value systems represent the highest level of social regulation; they formulate the criteria of what is accepted by a given society and social group—such criteria serving as a basis for the development of more specific and specialized norm-monitoring systems, as well as development of the corresponding societal institutions and, in fact, of people’s goal-oriented actions, be they individual or collective acts. The assimilation of these criteria on the level of the personality structure—that is, the internalization of values— is essential to the personality’s development and to the maintenance of a normative order in society. The integration of social systems and their inner contradictions and dynamics are reflected in the structure of the corresponding value systems and in the way each social system affects different social groups.

Personal value orientation systems are important elements of the value relationships in society; they represent man’s entrenched and not fully conscious attitudes toward various elements of the social structure and toward values themselves. Subjectively colored valuations are not directly coincident with the socially significant characteristics of values. The empirical study of value orientations is an essential part of sociological research dealing with such issues as education, choice of occupation, public work, and job-related activity.

Value systems are formed and transformed in the course of society’s historical development. Since these processes are connected to the changes that take place in different spheres of human activity, their timetable does not coincide with the timetable of other changes, such as socioeconomic and political ones. Thus the aesthetic values of antiquity retained their significance even after the fall of the civilization that had given them birth; similarly known for their enduring influence are the humanist and democratic ideals of the European Enlightenment, which had their roots in the ancient and Hellene cultures.

The materialist conception of history is equally opposed to those historical views of society wherein the latter is treated as the actualization of a system of “eternal values” or, alternatively, as a succession of changing types of values—for example, the replacement of transcendentally oriented values by secular ones, or of unconditional values by conventional ones. At the same time, a concretely historical analysis of the origin and evolution of value systems is an important aspect of any scientific study of the history of society and culture.


Vasilenko, V. A. Tsennosl’ iotsenka. Moscow, 1964.
Problema tsennosti v filosofii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1966. [Collection of articles.]
Drobnitskii, O. G. Mir ozhivshikh predmetov: Problema tsennosti i marksistskaia filosofiia. Moscow, 1967.
Liubimova, T. B. “Poniatie tsennosti v burzhuaznoi sotsiologii.” In the collection Sotsial’nye issledovaniia, fase. 5. Moscow, 1970.
Tugarinov, V. P. Teoriia tsennostei v marksizme. Leningrad, 1968.
Stolovich, L. N. Priroda esteticheskoi tsennosti. Moscow, 1972.


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


The value of a function ƒ at an element x is the element y which ƒ associates with x ; that is, y = ƒ(x).
The expected payoff of a matrix game when each player follows an optimal strategy.
(mining engineering)
The economically valuable metals contained in ore or tailings.
(science and technology)
The magnitude of a quantity.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


1. Maths
a. a particular magnitude, number, or amount
b. the particular quantity that is the result of applying a function or operation for some given argument
2. Music short for time value
3. in painting, drawing, etc.
a. a gradation of tone from light to dark or of colour luminosity
b. the relation of one of these elements to another or to the whole picture
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


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(1) The content of a field or variable. It can refer to alphabetic as well as numeric data. For example, in the expression, state = "PA", PA is a value.

(2) In spreadsheets, the numeric data within the cell.
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(7) It then applied that value to the percentage interests attributed to each donee under the CA (i.e., the percentages to which the donees agreed, based on the value of $89,505 per LP interest), to determine the gifts' value.
In evaluation of the learning styles preferences for the 78 students in the General Chemistry courses using Shetlar-Morrison's instrument, average values of auditory = 26.4%, visual = 40.1% and tactile/kinesthetic = 33.5% were obtained as illustrated in Figure 3.
The value of the purchased intangible must be allocated between goodwill and the intangible assets other than goodwill.
This point of difference forms the basis for its value proposition.
Desktop opinion reflects a professional opinion of the appropriately defined value, expressed in terms of cash in U.S.
To measure and maximize their value, firms must be able to measure and manage their total risk, which includes risks pertaining to underwriting, reserves, bonds, stocks and receivables, all measured so that they can be compared and combined.
earnings to present value at a rate that reflects the required return on investment of a prudent investor.
But second (and perhaps more important) many customers who claim "your price is too high" are simply saying "I don't see the value of the bundle of attributes you are offering me justifies your price.
The New York Law School's dean, Richard Matasar, calls the current model of legal education "unsustainable." The quest for higher rankings drives up costs without, in most cases, increasing the value of the degree in the marketplace.
Your Honor, we have already asserted that the FIST value of Tiny is not part of the current framework, so to expect anyone to integrate it without significant change to the underlying structure is ludicrous." And then we'd cut to commercial, for cliffhanger effect.
The requirements of EITF 00-19 indicate that the balance sheet classification of the warrants in this instance should be classified as liability as opposed to equity, and should be measured at fair value. The changes in fair value are reported in earnings and disclosed in the financial statements, as long as the contracts remain classified as a liability.