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Paris, Capital of Modernity by David Harvey

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CHAPTER NINE

THE BUYING AND SELLING OF LABOR POWER

[Capital] can spring into life, only when the owner of the means of production and subsistence meets in the market with a free laborer selling his labor-power. And this one historical condition comprises a world’s history.

—MARX

The growth of industry and commerce, coupled with the expansion of construction in Paris, put strong pressure on labor markets during the Second Empire. Where was the supply to come from? How and under what conditions were workers prepared to surrender rights over their labor power to others? And how did the quantities and qualities of labor power offered in Paris affect the form and geographical distribution of economic activity?

In 1848, Paris had an enormous surplus ...

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