Use-value in English and German
Use-value is Gebrauchwert in German. This is simple; the problems come with translating 'usefulness':
- German has a single term NÃŒtzlichkeit used both in ordinary speech and as a special technical term in Austrian-school and [[Wikipedia:Marginalism|marginalist economics]].
English has two terms: usefulness and utility.
- Usefulness is a term from normal speech, rarely used by economists of any school, and it has no technical meaning. It refers to a property of things, though there is no strict definition.
Utility is a technical term first used in a special meaning by the philosophical school of [Wikipedia:Utilitarianism Utilitarians] (in particular, [Wikipedia:Jeremy_Bentham Jeremy Bentham] who tried to create a 'calculus of utility', based on quantifiable pleasure), and then adopted by marginalist economists, with a very similar meaning. Since being adopted by the marginalists, this word refers to subjective perception of properties of things.
There is a good description of the difference between 'utility' and 'usefulness' in section a of Phases of the Marginalist Revolution.
'Utility' has a second unrelated meaning: the 'public utilities' ('Dienste') are gas, electricity, water, etc.
Confusingly, English translations of Marx use both 'utility' and 'usefulness' as a translation for 'NÃŒtzlichkeit'.
There was a discussion on Use Value on the German Oekonux list, which migrated to the opencollector.org wiki before this wiki existed, and can now be found here on [/Talk the talk page].
- The original Oekonux thread
The first chapter of Marx's ''Capital'', where Use Value is defined (or not...)
Questioning Technology by Andrew Feenberg (Routledge 1999) is rather philosophical and abstract. Chapter 9 on Technological Fetishism is the most relevant (see Fetishism of Use Value). Not on the web, though the author's home page is, along with some other papers.
Design for the Real World by Victor Papanek (Thames & Hudson 1997) is a pioneering work from the 70s full of practical case-studies. It's not on the web - here's a short biography.
Tools for Conviviality by Ivan Illich contains suggestions for alternatives, again from the 70s but still relevant