"The Conception of Labor in Gabriel Tarde's Psychologie Economique"
last update: 20151225
The Conception of Labor in Gabriel Tarde's Psychologie Economique
This article examines Gabriel Tarde's conception of labor. In the late 19th century and early 20th century,
Tarde aimed to overcome the conflict between classical economics and socialist economics. To overcome this
conflict, Tarde introduced subjective factors, such as belief, desire, knowledge and will, as fundamental
components in his economic thought, "psychologie economique." In his work of the same name, Psychologie
Economique (1902), Tarde reconstructed the conception of value, production, capital and labor on subjective
factors and their interaction. Also, Tarde was a precursor in the emphasis on the importance of invention in
economic phenomenon. In his thought, labor is not production but reproduction of what is made by previous
invention. Genuine production, in contrast, is the invention of "what is new." Invention is pleasurable, but labor
is painful. The pain of labor is made of two factors, fatigue and boredom. In modernity, labor became less and
less fatiguing, but more and more boring. Tarde emphasized the importance of boredom, because the boredom
increased fatigue and made labor intolerable. Thus, in conclusion, Gabriel Tarde's conception of labor was
based on subjective factors.
Keywords: Gabriel Tarde, Economic Psychology, labor, invention, boredom