The ‘Information Revolution’ in the Current Depression



No one would deny that one of the most conspicuous features of the current great depression in the capitalist world from the early 1970s is the process of major change in information technologies. This process, together with its impact on various aspects of our economic life, is referred to as the ‘information revolution’. Its main technological basis is the development of micro-electronics (ME), using more and more sophisticated silicon integrated circuits (IC). An IC silicon chip smaller than one square centimetre in 1960 contained semi-conductor functions equivalent only to ten transistors. By 1976, its function had grown to an equivalent of 64 thousand transistors, and to around a million at the current time.1 The cost per bit of ICs went down to less than one-thousandth of its 1965 value in the following fifteen years, and it has continued to fall. Much reduction in both the size and costs of computers has thus been realised, and has enabled the extension of computer technology to a wide range of information processing.


Great Depression Capitalist Economy Current Depression Tertiary Industry Commodity Product 
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  1. 1.
    For the technological aspects of the ‘information revolution’, I referred mainly to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), The Impact of Micro-Electronics (Geneva: ILO Office, 1980).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    This problem is raised and analysed in J. Ikegami, [Political Economy of an Information Society] (Kyoto: Showado, 1985), among others.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    These historically specific characters of a capitalist economy are theoretically investigated by K. Marx, in Capital, op. cit.; K. Uno, Principles of Political Economy, translated by T. Sekine (Brighton: Harvester Press, 1980) is a good compact, summary with original insights.Google Scholar
  4. See also M. Itoh, The Basic Theory of Capitalism (London: Macmillan, 1988).Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    J. M. Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, (London: Macmillan, 1936), p. 156.Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    As for the basic value theory of skilled labour, see M. Itoh, Basic Theory, op. cit., Chapter 6, Section 1. As for the actual features and the historical context of the recent capitalist tendency towards segmentation of labour, see for example, D. Gordon, R. Edwards, M. Reich, Segmented Work, Divided Workers (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), Chapter 5.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Makoto Itoh 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of TokyoJapan

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