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Key concepts in Capital vol. I

I thought it could be useful to use this Wiki to list and define key concepts we encounter throughout the text. Using the Wiki format will allow everyone to update, expand, and add new concepts as we move along. Don't worry if you haven't come across some of these words yet in the reading. Some don't show up until towards the end.

Absolute Surplus-Value: surplus-value produced by lengthening the working day



Capitalist: 'capital personified and endowed with consciousness and a will.' (p. 254)

Commodity: 'an external object, a thing which through its qualities satisfies human needs of whatever kind.' (p. 125) 'In order to become a commodity, the product must be transferred to the other person, for whom it serves as a use-value, through the medium of exchange.' (p. 131)

Constant Capital: part of capital that does not undergo any quantitative alteration of value in the process of production. Ie raw material, auxilery material, instruments of labour, means of production 317

Exchange-value: quantitative

Equivalent value-form:

Formal Subsumption:

Labour power:

Money: ‘The commodity which functions as a measure of value and therefore also as the medium of circulation, either in its own body or through a representative, is money.’ (p. 227)


Primitive Accumulation:

Real Subsumption:

Relative Surplus-value: Surplus-value which arises from the curtailment of necessary labour time and consequent increase in surplus labour time (p. 432)

Relative value-form:

Surplus value:

Use-value: the usefullness of a thing, qualitative


Variable capital: part of capital that does undergo an alteration of value – labour power

For questions email j.kinkle @

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