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Exploitation of labour is the act of using power to systematically extract more value from workers than is given to them. It is a social relationship based on an asymmetry of power between workers and their employers. When speaking about exploitation, there is a direct affiliation with consumption in social theory and traditionally this would label exploitation as unfairly taking advantage of another person because of their inferior position, giving the exploiter the power.[1]

Karl Marx is considered the most classical and influential theorist of exploitation. In analyzing exploitation, economists are split on the explanation of the exploitation of labour given by Marx and Adam Smith. Smith did not see exploitation as an inherent systematic phenomenon in certain economic systems as Marx did, but rather as an optional moral injustice.[2]

Marxist theory