Understanding Capital And Human Capital In Karl Marx’s Theories

The Concept of Capital

Capital refers to the financial assests or resources an individual or an economy owns.The concept of capital is wide.In the first place the concept of capital have risen in history from the practice of circulation and exchange of commodities.German philosopher and sociologist,Karl Marx introduced the cocenpt of the term socialism which is mainly the result of the clash in thr capitalist procedure.Through out his theories,marx highlighted how human societies have struggled to develop and how the ruling class have controlled the working class.His works basically highlighted the relation between labor and capital.According to Karl Marx,Capital is a social power (Marxists.org 1848).Workers work in the organizations and produces outputs for the capitalists who sells those output for futher capital and the workers in return of their productivity gets their capital in the means of wages.According to his theories,capital exist only in the procedure of buying and selling.Money is advanced in order to get it back with a larger amount or with a higher rate of profit.The concept of human capital includes all the talents,intelligence,knowleges,skills,experience and abilities human processes either individually or collectively.These are the wealth that can be used to gain targets for the economy.Karl Marx concept of labor power is similar to tha concept of human capital since his theories of capitalism states that workers sell their labor power to receive wages (Bowles and Gintis 1975).In the modern era,human capital is similar to that of the labor power as described by him.People these days may not go through any physical hardships for gaining wages but they do sell their skills and knowleges to gain capital in the form of salaries.

Human capital is not similar to the concept of natural and social capital since they are used in bourgeois economies as the caapcities of human in the form of their skills,knowledges,experiences which are the main capital that can be utilized to gain profit.Thus human capital is not exactly a capital since all its elemenst are the property of an individual that are constituted by their intellectual and their physical capabilities.Human capital is included inside the workforce and their pocession is contained in the  companies ability to utilize the employees skills affectively.The concept of human capital differs from from the concept of labor power because labor power is the utilization of the capacities of human which are the human capital measured in the terms of hour.Human capital also involves collective skill sets that are emerged from number of workers working together in a productive organization.In his theories of capitalism,karl marx introduced a crucial concept of labor power (Engels 1848).He drew a difference in the concept of capacity to work and the physical act of working.His theories gives a view of the existance of labor power in societies from the historical era and the variation in the terms of trade with the production means of goods and services.In his theory of capitalism,Marx stated that the productive powers of the workers appers to be the creative powers of the capital.The poer of the labor in employment is treated as a component of the capital and it operates as a workin capital.Workers provoding the main labor power are treated as the abstract labor force and the management controls over the entire working procedure.His theories also highlighted the exploitation of the loabor foce where the laborers faes unfair means for the benefits of the ruling class.The common thing for different use-value commodities is the labor time which is the only criterion during the exchange situation.The concept of Marx’s labor theory of value implies that commodities exchanged values are not intrinsic to them since they have a social dimensions(Marxists.org 1887).They depends on the society’s entire division of labor and system of economic interdependence, where different people produce different products for sale on a common market.

The Concept of Human Capital

Bourgeoise were the capitalist class owning the most of the means of the production,whereas the proletariat were the working class that includes the farmers and the semi skilled workers.In his theories Marx argues that the proletrait class has been mercilessly exploitd by the bourgeoisie class (Marxists.org 1986).In the ancient and the mediaval society,the ruling class had oppressed the slaves and the poor laborers.He noted that the work done by the proletrait class formed great capital and wealth for the ruling capitalist class.The products formed by the workers were sold in higher prices that were more than the workers wage rate.The capitalists gained profit and thus was in advantage through out.Karl Marx believed that the seeds of destruction of capitalism is presented on the very concept of capitalism itself (Engels 1848).The wealth of the capitalist section has been dependable on the working skills of the proletrait from the ancient era.The continued exploitation of the underclass has made the proletrait to accept their fate of being suppressed through out andserving for the capitalist class.In his works regarding political and economic development of the society,Karl Marx introduced the term feudalism to highlight the power of the atistrocracy and their control over the lands.Feidalism explains the social class structure and the exploitation of the laborers working and farmimg the lands under the condition of bondage or serfdom (BOURDIEU 1983).The feudal society showed a picture where serfers used to work for the land owner in exchange of protection,right to cultivate and minimum wage to survive.The main thing to highiht about the feudal society is that the workers and the farmers  were bound legally by taxation by the ruling class resulting in m jor cases of black death among the workers.Human capital in this era constiturtes manily the skills,the extent to which a labor can work and the physical strength of a labour which can be utilized by the land owners to maximize their profit margin.The concept of capitalism deals with the attempt to maximize the profit margin with economic exchanges.From the ancient times,till today the workers are the main sources of the capital that initiate funds for their organization or the owner they work for.Their skills,talents,powers and knowledges are the main ingredients for the human capital that are utilized to maximize or earn profit.Hence the concept of capitalism is totally dependable on the working class.

The concept of capitalism has grown into a bigger state through out the time.Bourgeoisie or the ruing class has gained more power through out the time resulting in major difference between the ruling and the working class.The modern time shows a picture where laborers are organized in the factories or organizations like soldiers(Sombart 2017). Like the structure of an army,they are placed in a perfect hierarchy according to their position,class and ranks.They have still remained slaves to the bourgeoisie and their states.The workers are enslaved daily by the bourgeois owners.Besides the modern society doeas not show any distinction between the working of men and women as lomg as they are productive.The more the society and the industry is developing,less focus and importance is given to manual labor strengths,employers are interested in the intellectual of mental knowledge of the employers which results in the equal opportunities for both the sex in the society.Laborers are still in an incoherent mass and are scattered over the globe.They lack union power to protest against the ruling class and are often broken by their mututal competitions.Human capital served by them has made them the servent or the slaves to the bourgeois class (Research-repository.st-andrews.ac.uk 2013).Though the workers receive wages or salaries,they do not receive the exact value of their capital.The ruling class sells their products in a higher rate to earn profit and the workers are left with their minimum wage structures. The value of their capital is the amount of output they produced and not the amount they receive as salaries. 

Labor Power and Human Capital

The concept of wage labor is a socio economic norm which highlights the relationship between the employer and the worker.The worker sells his skills or knowledge under an employment contract.The works get wages or salaries in exchange of their work productivity.In short,they sell their abilities and skills to gain wages for their living.In his theories,marx established the position of labor under capitalism.Labors sell their skill sets and powers to gain money,this same money could have been used to obtain some commodities also,thus by Karl Marx,labor power is similar to a commodity (Engels 1848).The exchange of the skill sets and the labor power by the worker to the employer is characterized by the measurement of capital or money,hence the wage obtained is the price of the labor power supplied.Thus Marx pointed out that wages are the basic name for the amount paid for a particular commodity that contains no other repository other than human blood and flesh (Becker 1994).Workers can sell their labor to any capitalist who will buy it and provide the maximum proce as compared to others in the market,they are freee to move from one capitalist employer to other but the workers cannot leave the entire market without renouncing their existance.Hence,according to Marx, workers doesn not belong to any perticluar capitalist,they belong to the whole class of capitalist (Marx 2010). Marx in his theories of wage labor and capitalist,explained the capitalism as the in depth observation on the procedure of the working structure of the capitalist economy and the reasons for its exploitative nature (Engels 1848).Human capital consists of various norms.In todays economy,the relation between the human capital and the wage capital is determined by number of factors influencing the productivity of an individual.Education,knowledge of work,skills,experience and abilities to cope up with the modern technology are some of the important factors that determine the wage capital an individual receives.


The concept of capitalism has originated long back and still prevails in the society. The role of bourgeoise and how they have suppressed the proletariat class from the ancient times is the key concept of capitalism.The exploitation of the working class is still present in the modern time.Individual sells their knowledge,skills in the form of human capital to the capitalist class since it is their only source of income.This essay discussed the different thoughts of Karl Marx regarding the concept of human capital in the light of his famous theories.It further highlights on the fact that capitalism cannot function without the proletariat class since the entire wealth of the bourgeoise or the capitalist ruling class is dependable on the labor power or the productivity of the proletariat class.


Becker, G.S., 1994. Human capital revisited. In Human Capital: A Theoretical and Empirical Analysis with Special Reference to Education (3rd Edition) (pp. 15-28). The university of Chicago press.

BOURDIEU, P. 1983. The Forms of Capital. [online] Faculty.georgetown.edu. Available at: https://faculty.georgetown.edu/irvinem/theory/Bourdieu-Forms_of_Capital-1.pdf [Accessed 18 Feb. 2018].

Bowles, S. and Gintis, H., 1975. The problem with human capital theory–a Marxian critique. The American Economic Review, 65(2), pp.74-82.

Engels, K. 1848. Communist Manifesto (Chapter 2). [online] Marxists.org. Available at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch02.htm [Accessed 18 Feb. 2018].

Engels, K. 1848. Communist Manifesto (Chapter 3). [online] Marxists.org. Available at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch03.htm [Accessed 18 Feb. 2018].

Engels, K. 1848. Communist Manifesto (Chapter 4). [online] Marxists.org. Available at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch04.htm [Accessed 18 Feb. 2018].

Marx, K., 2010. A contribution to the critique of political economy. In Marx Today (pp. 91-94). Palgrave Macmillan, New York.

Marxists.org. 1848. Communist Manifesto (Chapter 1). [online] Available at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1848/communist-manifesto/ch01.htm#007 [Accessed 18 Feb. 2018].

 Marxists.org. 1887. Economic Manuscripts: Capital: Volume One. [online] Available at: https://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/ [Accessed 18 Feb. 2018].

Marxists.org. 1986. The Forms of Capital by Pierre Bourdieu 1986. [online] Available at: https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/fr/bourdieu-forms-capital.htm [Accessed 18 Feb. 2018].

Research-repository.st-andrews.ac.uk. 2013. THINKING IN CAPITAL MODE. [online] Available at: https://research-repository.st-andrews.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/10023/5891/Townley_2014_ESRC_RCBC_thinking_AM.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y [Accessed 18 Feb. 2018].

Sombart, W., 2017. The Jews and modern capitalism. Routledge.

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