1. The biggest difference between an owner and an employee is that the owner independently owns the means of production, while the employee does not independently own the means of production, and must rely on selling his own labor to work for others to earn income. The owner of a small shop, even if he is not directly involved in exploitation, as long as he independently owns the means of production, he can be called the owner or petite bourgeoisie. A manager with an annual salary of one million, as long as he must sell his labor to earn income, he is still an employee.
  2. Regarding that sentence, my understanding is that the value of labor is relatively constant, while the exchange value of commodities is indeed variable. A glass of water in the desert is cheaper than diamonds, because it takes more labor to obtain it, which is why labor is the real value.
  3. To talk about this issue, we must first understand the definition of the two words class and identity. The first thing to emphasize is that class and stratum are not the same. For the definition of class, I quoted Lenin’s original words “large groups of people differing from each other by the place they occupy in a historically determined system of social production, by their relation (in most cases fixed and formulated in law) to the means of production, by their role in the social organization of labor, and, consequently, by the dimensions of the share of social wealth of which they dispose and the mode of acquiring it.” The division of classes is determined by the different positions and relationships that people have in a specific social and economic structure. Examples of one class versus another are slave owners and slaves, landlords and serfs, capitalists and employees. Next is the definition of identity I found-Identity is the qualities, beliefs, personality, looks, and/or expressions that make a person (self-identity as emphasized in psychology[1]) or group ([[collective identity ] no] as pre-eminent in sociology). If identity is how a person or a group perceives oneself, then there is no doubt that class is an identity
  4. People of the same class have the same things in common and the same claims of interest. This is what the author said “class structures are built around a close form of dependency”. An example is what the author said “This interdependence means that to be a worker is to always and everywhere be in a position of having your interests at least threatened by the capitalist that employs you. But it also means that workers everywhere have the potential power to force their employers to the table by threatening their ability to remain capitalists”。

D.B Kayla Zagal

  1. The reading 4.3 makes it clear how owners and employees are different due to where each came from. What that being said, the distinction between owners and workers is blurred somewhat by the range of incomes within both classes.
  • Owners have both the fabulously wealthy stockholders of giant corporations and the struggling proprietors of small stores.
  • To become a member of the owning class, you must have the income large and it should come from the labor of other people.
  • Owners have the secret of having great wealth is not to work hard but to have others work for you. The rich and wealthy people have enough money so they can spend it as they wish.
  • Owners can amass considerable fortunes.

As for employees, they include professionals and managers who in income, education, and lifestyle tend to be identified as “middle” or “upper-middle” class. The workers’ wages represent only a portion of the wealth created by their labor. They endure an exploitation of their labor as certainly as do slaves and serfs. Workers, the only reason they are hired is to pleased the owners. It also benefits the owner so they can earn the money. An example of owners and workers is the Starbucks baristas and the overall company.

2. I understand the quote, “labor… is alone the ultimate and real standard by with the value of all commodities can at all times and places be estimated and compared. It is their real price; money is their nominal price only.” Adam Smith is trying to state how labor contains for everyone in the world, a value that’s worth a lot. Money is what many people use nowadays to live and labor is going to seen in different ways.

3. Class is NOT an identity, nobody should be based on what their or family’s income is or was. It describes nothing of each other’s identity. Like in the driver licenses’ there’s no such thing were social class is written because it has nothing to do with us, people. I agree deeply with the statement because everyone came from different families and they tend to show a lot of love and trust but not income.

4. I understand the argument Reading 4.4 makes when “class structures are built around a close form of dependency.” It come across between the capitalist class and working class, they both tie together to be a form of dependency because one depends of one another. It states on page 5, “just the concept of “worker” that is dependent on the concept of capitalist for meaning. It’s that to be a worker means, necessarily, to be dependent on a capitalist or firm for a job.” An example will be the two countries that happen to be allies. One of the countries might be struggling so the country tries to look for a solution and see if the neighbor country could provide help.

DB 4.2 – Justine Lazdina

What is the distinction that Reading 4.3 makes between owners and employees? Give an example of each.

  • Owner is someone who makes money off of the labor of his/her workers.
  • Employees are people who work for an owner, and whose labor provides value. The employees themselves only sees about 2 hours work of the value that they have provided, the rest goes into the owners pocket.
  • A good example would be the owners of Starbucks vs the barista that works at Starbucks.

How do you understand the quote by Adam Smith on pg. 28? What is it saying about labor?

  • “Adam Smith, one of the founding theorists of capitalism, noted in 1776
    that ‘labor … is alone the ultimate and real standard by which the value of
    all commodities can at all times and places be estimated and compared. It is
    their real price; money is their nominal price only.'”
  • My understanding of the above quote by Adam Smith is that the labor needed to create or obtain a commodity is directly related to the cost/worth of said commodity; more labor equals higher cost/worth.
  • This essentially means that when purchasing anything, we are essentially paying for the labor that was put into creating/obtaining our purchase. This would make the workers one of -if not the- most important part of this exchange.

What are your thoughts on the main argument of Reading 4.4 that class is NOT an identity?

  • The main argument for why class is NOT an identity in Reading 4.4 is that class is not about “common status”, but is about “interests and actions”. Now, before going further, we have to acknowledge that Heideman does not state that socialists do not believe that class is NOT an identity, instead they believe it to be MORE than that. I, personally, can see how class can be viewed in such a way. Even though class can be something that we are born into and, some might believe, unable to change like other forms of identity, Heideman points out that socialists DO believe that class can be changed if only the workers stepped into their power and stood up against the capitalists. Since the capitalist systems is so interdependent -the workers depend on the capitalists and vice versa- this gives the workers some form of power if only they are brave enough to take it.

How do you understand the argument Reading 4.4. makes when stating that “class structures are built around a close form of dependency”? What is this close form of dependency, and can you think of an example?

  • The close from of dependency between class structures that is mentioned in Reading 4.4 is the dependency between the workers and capitalist that employ them. The capitalists have control of the societies productive assets which forces society to depended on them at any cost, at the same time capitalists count on workers to be willing to produce for them. An example of this interdependent relationship would be that of a boss and his/her worker. The boss requires the workers to be willing to work for them while creating a surplus of profit, and the workers need the boss to be willing to hire them while agreeing to work for the wages the boss negotiates.

Labor, Capital, and Social Class

  1. What is the distinction that Reading 4.3 makes between owners and employees? Give an example of each. 

4.3 makes the distinction that employees provide labor, while owners make profit off of the labor but without adding much value themselves. For example, the owner of a restaurant franchise doesn’t make money off of their own labor; they charge franchising fees and may take a percentage of profits. An employee, however, is vital to creating the value of the company. Their labor creates the service and product that is being sold, and they are compensated below the value they have added by providing labor, with a large amount of this value going to the owner.

  1. How do you understand the quote by Adam Smith on pg. 28? What is it saying about labor?

I understand Smith to be saying that nothing has inherent value until labor adds value to it. Therefore we should appropriately value labor higher than we do, because without it, a commodity or service doesn’t exist or have value.

  1. What are your thoughts on the main argument of Reading 4.4 that class is NOT an identity?

Identity is something you choose to align yourself with; and are independent of action. Their existence may be in relation to something else, but they are not because of or in spite of what we do. Class is a way of dividing us based on the relationship between worker and capitalist, and it is only defined in relation to each other and by our actions.

  1. How do you understand the argument Reading 4.4. makes when stating that “class structures are built around a close form of dependency”? What is this close form of dependency, and can you think of an example?

“Class structures, then, rest on a particularly close form of dependency” (Heideman, 6) because the existence of one necessitates the existence of the other, and vice versa. That owner of a restaurant franchise makes no money without the exploitation of labor from their employees, and their employees rely on the owner to give them work, exploit their labor, and pay them for less than their value add. This exists because the worker risks lack of survival by not complying with the capitalist society and its exploitation of worker labor.


1.What is the distinction that Reading 4.3 makes between owners and employees? Give an example of each. 

From reading 4.3, the distinction between business owners and employees have how the employees are utilized and are working harder. In contrast, business owners don’t work as hard as they make their employers work. For example, in reading 4.2, “Workers endure exploitation of their labor as certainly as do slaves and serfs. The slave obviously toils for the enrichment of the master and receives only a bare subsistence in return.” This demonstrates how the workers kill themselves working for the companies, while the companies make more money than the employees

2.How do you understand the quote by Adam Smith on pg? 28? What is it saying about labor?

In reading 4.3, Adam Smith states, “labor … is alone the ultimate and real standard by which the value of all commodities can at all times and places be estimated and compared. It is their real price; money is their nominal price only.”1n my understanding, I think Adam Smith is trying to say that the way people work makes the company better and more successfull

3.What are your thoughts on the main argument of Reading 4.4 that class is NOT an identity?

I do not think the class is an identity. Class is the system of dividing people into groups depending on their perceived social or economic status in society. And identity is the identity of a person or object.

4.How do you understand the argument Reading 4.4? Makes when stating that “class structures are built around a close form of dependency”? What is this close form of dependency, and can you think of an example?

This close form of dependence is the relationship between society, capitalists, and workers are how companies and workers rely on each other. But also, companies take advantage of the workers since companies gain more money than the workers.

Nikita Vasilyev – D.B. 4.2

  1. Michael Parenti makes a difference between owners and employees in the following way: on one side of the argument, we have people who must earn a living by selling their labor, on the other side we have owners, a category where we see small business owners and wealthy corporate elites. It seems that, in a nutshell, the difference could be best expressed by a quote from the text: “The secret to great wealth is not to work hard but to have others work hard for you”.  If we take an individual who owns and operates a small plant store where you can get plants, plant supplies and other somewhat-related decorative elements, the individual is viewed by Parenti as a struggling small business owner, while the employees at that store, be it a register person, a plant expert, or a store manager, have to earn their living by being employed by the owner.
  2. Adam Smith’s quote views labor as an essential activity, without which the market would not exist – labor not only transforms timber into chairs but allows for what is heralded as benefits of capitalism – surplus value, profits, and benefits. Smith made it clear, that a price itself did not explain the value of a commodity – for a true estimate, one had to look at the amount and quality of labor that the production of a commodity required.
  3. Paul Heideman devotes a significant part of his essay to make a distinction between how some socialists and some liberals see class and put it in a theoretical framework. I found the essay very profound and insightful, but the decision to view (or not) class as identity is far from an easy one. If we take notions of class out of a scientific framework and apply it to mass politics, mix it with marketing, market and social media, the definition of class as well as its application starts crossing borders. After my emigration, freelance and full-time jobs as well as income improvement and college experience, I found some utility in identifying with working and, later and sometimes, with middle class in my socio-cultural views and preferences. While I could accept that there is no need for a class identity, the reality that I live begs to differ: my professional ability is tied to my professional working circle and income, which dictates what I eat, where I live and what I can do with my leisure time. Through my professional or leisure activities I associate with people that have similar interests and fall into an income range that presupposes those activities – as socialist as it sounds, what I have indeed determines what I get. 
  4. I see the “close form of dependency” as a lip service to the worker’s exploitation by a managerial structure. Somehow Heideman finds it sensible to talk about interdependency and forget about surplus value that is extracted by the corporation from someone else’s labor, not to mention the problem of income inequality which has recently worsened and have become a global political, not just economic, issue. The wording itself makes me doubtful – when we talk about people, the mechanism of “dependency” implies some common sense, where one would be invested in the well-being of the other. It is not a hard task to envision this so-called dependency in terms of idealism that is indispensable for a handful of progressive corporations and corporate propaganda, yet I believe that Covid-19 pandemic has showed us whether corporations have public interest as one of their objectives. A brave idea that employees could, if they really tried, wield power, and check/balance the management seems to find more application in mutual abuse – corporations underpay and overwork employees because of rigid age-old hierarchy structures while employees underperform and have vague ideas about their socioeconomic standing, blowing steam online or in standalone protests that most people find hard to relate to.

Ignacio Salas on Capitalists/Workers and class

  1. Distinction between Owners and Employees:
  • Owners are the individuals or families who own the wealth of society, living most of investments such as bonds, stocks, rent, mineral royalties and property income. They belong to the corporate owning class and their wealth is exceptionally large and it comes from the labor of other people.
  • Employees are the ones who are exploited by the Owners and live out of wages, these can be considered factory workers, managers, doctors, lawyers, traders, CEOs. The Employee with her/his labor finishes the product for the Owner and gets a substantially small percentage in comparison to the sell and profits of the Owner.

In the gaming industry, the Owners of Sony made $18.19 billion in 2019, while paying their factory workers $25000 a year and their programmers and salespeople about $120000 (median wage) a year, still being an incredibly small percentage of the total profit.

2. Smith is saying that labor itself is the action that gives true value to all products or services created, and without it there would be no money at all.

3. In the eyes of socialists, class is not an identity, in fact, is seen as structural positions where all actions taken are based in an interdependency between the capital and the employees, where each one, is following a logical plan to maintain that position. Capitalists compete against other Capitalists in markets where the one who exploits the most out of their employees for profit wins, on the other hand workers must compete against other workers convincing capitalists just for the sake of getting a job and being able to eat. So, for socialists, class, is more about interests and actions rather than a common status.

In a more simplified way, liberals think class is an identity in politics because, they say your class is linked to the advantages and disadvantages you were born in, this being a combination of wealth, income and education and sometimes taking account things like “Cultural Capital”.

I honestly don’t believe that class is an identity and my example is two short questions, if you are born upper class, and you are raised in an environment where everybody has the same advantages as you, and then for any reason you lose all your wealth, income and you can’t exercise the degree you obtained with your education, does that make you a different class that you have to identify with?, what if you were the one who reached the life of a capitalist, in an old stage of your life, is the lower class you identity?

4. The close form of dependency is that Owners depend on employees to work for them to create them wealth, and employees need the working place from the owners to sell their labor to be able to live.

An example could be the coal mining towns, where employees who know how to mine sell their labor to the mine Owner, but, without miners, the owner of the mine would not be able to make money from it, he would have to do it himself and that’s not what capitalists do.

Discussion 4.2-Jasmin Amigon

  1. Owners are wealthy individuals who live on investments such as stocks, rents, and other property income. The wealth-owning class receives a large income that comes mostly from the labor of others. For example, owning a company can accumulate a considerable amount of wealth because employees are doing almost all the work. On the other hand, employees are working people who live on wages and salaries. The employees are paid substantially less than the value they produce. For example, garment employees are paid below minimum wage and work for long hours for big clothing companies. The distinction between owners and employees can be determined by the range of income within both classes. 
  1. Human Labor is a great good to society because it makes our daily lives possible. The more labor employed in production, the greater the value the item created in exchange with other items on a relative basis. Adam Smith’s theory of value is based on production rather than exchange. The more extensive human labor the more expensive a product is. Human labor is essential to making society function. 
  1. I found it really interesting how class is more than another identity. Class is conceptually symmetrical just like race or gender according to liberals. On the other hand, socialists see class as two things which are capitalists and workers. However, liberals deny that class concerns any particularly special kind of social power. It’s seen as an identity like any other, and any particular focus on it can only be the result of pleading or want to ignore other forms of oppression. 
  1. Close dependency is an intense dependency someone has because of their social class. The power capitalists’ have over class results in control over society’s productive assets such as the workers which force them to be dependent on them. For example, The U.S. depends heavily on China for providing low-cost goods and support its own exports. China and the US rely on each other’s supply chain for input into goods and services consumed within their borders.

DB 4.2/Social Class

  1. The distinction made between owners and employee is the ability to make money by working versus having others work for you. Reading 4.3 highlights the how owners tend to amass fortunes and grow and maintain wealth by relying on the labor of many employees and investing. Employees on the other hand usually rely on a single income from a labor-based income.

An example would be Amazon. Over 1 million Amazon employees serve the company. Each being paid a specific wage, workers are paid based on how many hours worked which would heavily cap their income levels due to limited physical strength. Workers, like anyone else has living expenses so a good chunk of their income goes to bills — further eating into their ability to build wealth.

The CEO of Amazon, on the other hand, benefits immensely from the labor of Amazon’s many employees. Their labor generates an exponential amount of money in small windows of time. For example, Amazon generates a reported $283,000 every minute (C. Dunne, 2021)! Imagine how much is generated annually. So the workers are allocated their same hourly wages and the CEO rakes in their nearly 2 million annual income from Amazon alone plus whatever other investments. But let’s remember, this all wouldn’t be possible without the low-wage workers who quickly and efficiently fulfill these Amazon orders. 

2. I understand this quote as referring to labor as the thing that actually determined the commercial worth of a product or service. Referring the ending of my answer to the first question, those Amazon workers fulfilling order so quickly and efficiently is a large reason of why Amazon’s sales continue to stay afloat. It’s not just the product or even the price it’s quality of service too. 

3. I agree, to an extent, that class is not an identity. Social class is just social construct made up to categorize people and just make sense of their attributes pertaining often to material things such as income, residential zip codes, education levels. It for sure is not define that person, just gives socio-economic profile. 

4. I understand class structures being built around dependency as simply seeing the class levels and business-laborer relationships as an business ecosystem. Businesses rely on workers to mass produce and deliver consistent results to bring revenue, workers depend on business to continue running and being able to pay them. The upper class relies on the lower classes and vice versa.

One example of this is a restaurant owner. This could be a 5 star restaurant. Because of the hard work of mainly the employees — hostess, waiters, bartenders, cashiers, cleaners, stockers, often lower wage employees (+tips) this business possibly brings in 100k+ per month. With The owner bringing home around 155k annually, put him/her in the upper-middle class at worst. It’s possible the workers are working to middle class at best. But the owners needs their employees for their business to survive and the employees need their jobs to survive, until they find another one. 

Discussion Board 4.2 Hongtao Fu

1.What is the distinction that Reading 4.3 makes between owners and employees? Give an example of each.

The difference is not publicly believed to be the difference in the amount of wealth. The real difference is the means they have to obtain wealth. The owners own capitals and assets like stocks, real-estates, bonds, etc. The assets they have essentially make money for them. Their ownership of certain assets allows them to take the wealth that their employees created. On the other hand, the employees create wealth but not for themself, the majority of the wealth they created goes to the owner of the particular business. Only a portion goes to employees’ pockets called wages. The employees’ means of obtaining wealth is to receive wages from their employers.

2. How do you understand the quote by Adam Smith on pg. 28? What is it saying about labor?

Adam Smith stated the only standard for the value of certain commodities is the labor that goes into them. In my understanding by this standard, the wage workers receive should measure up to the wealth they created. For example, if a car sells for $30,000 on the market. At least the majority if not all of its value should be distributed among the workers that contributed labor that built this car. The designer who designed the car, the worker assembled the parts, the salesmen who convinced the buyer to purchased the car, the list goes on. By this standard, labor should be fundamental for the economy. And they ought to be rewarded as such.

3. What are your thoughts on the main argument of Reading 4.4 that class is NOT an identity?

I support the argument that class is not an identity. Identity is a social label unlike someone’s racial identity, class is fluent. One’s education, income, assets, environment are all subjects to change over time. That being said, someone can definitely be identified by all of those qualities above.

4. How do you understand the argument Reading 4.4. makes when stating that “class structures are built around a close form of dependency”? What is this close form of dependency, and can you think of an example?

The class structure we have is a form of symbiosis and competitive relationship. This contradiction is easy to be understood when we look at how capitalists need workers to create wealth for them but also look into exploit workers’ surplus-value to maximize their profit. While workers need the wage they earn from the capitalists to survive while consistently looking for more appreciation from the labor they provide.