Sociology Index


In Marxian analysis exchange value is the theoretical value of any commodity exchanged or sold in the market place. Exchange value is the amount of socially necessary labour time embodied in it. Exchange value is the value when exchanged, exchangeable value. In actual market conditions, exchange value is the money or equivalent paid for a commodity may differ from the value of the commodity, although, in a perfectly working market, price and value would be identical.

It is the unique characteristic of capitalism that the great majority of goods and services are produced to be sold, rather than for their immediate use value to the producer.

What is a commodity? Why does it become socially necessary to attach an exchange value to it? A commodity is simply a concrete bundle of different socially desirable properties.

But as an exchangeable good, its salient property is that it is treated socially as being qualitatively identical to every other commodity. This is embodied in the fact that when commodities are assigned differing quantities of exchange value, expressed in some common measure, they are thereby being socially regarded as qualitatively alike, all reducible to the same homogeneous measure of quantitative worth.

A commodity therefore has two opposite characteristics: a multiplicity of concrete useful properties on the one hand, and a single magnitude of homogeneous quantitative worth or exchange value on the other.

W. MARK CRAIN and ASGHAR ZARDKOOHI, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and UCLA, and Auburn Univ.
Several important contributions to the property rights literature develop the point that different institutional arrangements lead to differences in the relative cost of income in pecuniary form versus income in nonpecuniary form. This analytical framework is rich in positive content, although few attempts have been made to measure directly the exchange value of nonpecuniary income. This paper posits a simple method for approximating the exchange value of nonpecuniary rewards and offers some estimates of this value for a particular occupational category: namely, scientists in the United States.