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Producing Capitalism

Producing Capitalism

The Clerk at Work

Chapter:
(p.223) 9 Producing Capitalism
Source:
Capitalism Takes Command
Author(s):
Michael Zakim
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226977997.003.0010

Anxious to introduce regularity and integrity to what was usually advertised as a free market, capitalists recruited a large new class of clerks who would discipline the growing volume of exchange with ledgers, inventory controls, credit reports, regular communications, and the rising circulation of information across ever-expanding networks of time and space. These clerks labored on the production of the market, capitalism’s most important creation. Their paperwork produced abstract knowledge that was more essential to industrial production than the material excesses of crops and goods. These clerks were ambitious employees scribbling hard at their desks in the office and hoping to make partner someday.

Keywords:   free market, capitalism, clerks, abstract knowledge, industrial production, office

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