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date: 20 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article explores Piero Sraffa’s role in the criticism of mainstream theory and the development of post-Keynesian economics. Despite claims to the contrary, there is a strong bond uniting post-Keynesians of various brands and Sraffa: it is their opposition to the marginalist or neoclassical theory. The latter revolves basically around two closely interrelated ideas, one regarding the determination of the volume of output as a whole and the other regarding the sharing out of that output among different claimants. This chapter first counterposes the classical and the marginalist approaches to the theory of value and distribution, as Sraffa saw them, and provides a summary account of his main criticisms of the latter. It then looks at Sraffa’s view of the working of the economic system as regards the determination of output as whole and employment. According to Sraffa, the capitalist economy is not a crisis-free system possessed of an endogenous mechanism of self-regulation, as it is described by marginalist theory.

Keywords: Piero Sraffa, post-Keynesian economics, output, value, distribution, marginalist theory, employment, self-regulation, capitalist economy, mainstream theory

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