Parasites on Unwilling Hosts: Student Loan Debt and the Generation of Value
This paper focuses on the way in which the student loan system in the United States functions as a means of value-generation via the creation of indebted students. In order to exhibit the way in which the student loan system functions in this manner, the first section focuses on the relationship between labor and value, by discussing Marx’s analysis of labor-power and the generation of surplus value and Althusser’s notion of Ideological State Apparatuses. For both Marx and Althusser, value-generation relates directly to labor, but this changes as we shift from disciplinary societies to what Deleuze calls societies of control, which is the subject of the second part of the paper. In control societies, value is not just generated piecemeal, via labor, but permanently, via debt. Drawing on the work of Lazzarato and Serres, the third section folds the student loan system into this framework, showing how it functions immanently and parasitically on students to generate value outside of the sphere of work. The conclusion suggests that, despite its ubiquity, such indebtedness can also function as a locus for struggle.
Subjectsdebt, student loans, Marx, Althusser, Deleuze, Lazzarato, Serres, Higher Education Act of 1965, societies of control, debt resistance
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