The Facets of Exploitation

This text was written by Marc Fleurbay, Princeton University, who holds the Chaire entitled « Welfare Economics and Social Justice » at the Collège d’études mondiales. It is written for the 30th anniversary of the publication of John Roemer’s General Theory of Exploitation and Class . It has benetted from discussions with N. Gravel.

This paper proposes four concepts of exploitation that encapsulate common uses of the word in social interactions: unfair advantage, unequal exchange, using persons as means, free-riding. It briefly discusses how these concepts appear in the literature (the first two are prominent in Roemer’s classical work), and then examines how these forms of exploitation are related and how they can occur.

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