MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of Terms


Cycle of Reproduction

The cycle of reproduction of capital is the process whereby capital invested in some process of production is finally realised again in the form of money.

The cycle of reproduction of labour is the process whereby labour is applied to the production of the means of life, and consumed, restoring the labourers’ capacity to work again. This cycle occurs both on a day-by-day basis as well as generation-after-generation.

In the first case the cycle of reproduction of capital may be disrupted if the commodities produced cannot be sold, or at least cannot be sold at their value; in other words there is a crisis of Realisation of capital. The length cycle of reproduction is also important. A labour process which takes a long time before producing an end-product necessarily requires a large capital, whereas businesses with a short time of circulation of capital are easily exploited by small-scale capital. The longer the period of circulation, the lower the annual rate of profit, for a given productivity of labour. The increasing complexity of the labour process today implies a very extended cycle of reproduction.

The cycle of reproduction of labour is also something which is historically constructed: nowadays it may take up to 25 years before a worker is fully ready for productive work.