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Visualizing Capital

David Harvey
School of Geography and the Environment, 2017
Level: advanced
Perspectives: Institutionalist Economics, Marxian Political Economy
Topic: Criticism of Capitalism, Institutions, Governments & Policy, Macroeconomics, Microeconomics & Markets, Reflection of Economics
Format: Lecture / Presentation
Duration: 01:06:29

Professor David Harvey suggests and presents a complete visual representation of the flow of capital in all its forms. This is similar to the Water Cycle diagrams present in many secondary education textbooks around the world. Harvey models the economics of production, consumption, human reproduction, labor, private business, and government redistribution.

Comment from our editors:

Harvey begins this lecture by talking about his annoyance with gross misrepresantions of what Marx had to say - not just by the right, but also by the left and by some marxists. He then adds that most commentators are trying to make Marx more complex than he is. The project he presents in this lecture therefore aims to create a simple but not simplistic representation of Marx' capital notion and theory of labour. Harvey does this by visualizing capital in a way that is inspired by the hydrologic cycle in geography.

The result is a dense graphic model that incorporates the process of capital ergo the movement of value. The model is very helpful to get an overview of Marx' notion of capital and the relations it creates within all the basic macroeconomic processes. Harveys model and this lecture are for this reason a great introduction to a marxist perspective on (macro-)economics: He is sucessful in providing an accessible yet comprehensive visual model of capital, that at the same time illustrates the core concepts of marxist political economy in their interconnectivity. The model can also be useful for anyone, who has already dived into marxist theory and is looking to bring a clearer analytical structure into their own thinking, a theorical framework of Marx' notion of capital and/or a grafic approach to the complex issue of representing real abstractions such as capital.

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