Another point of interest that has cropped up in my studies is the way use-value has been variously interpreted in Marxist social and cultural theories. While it seems to me that what is important and brilliant about the category of use-value in Marx’s own theory is that it is left open so that anything can be subsumed by capitalist valorization. However,in the 20th century many humanist Hegelian-Marxists weighed the category down by equating it with conceptions of what is ‘good.’ By this I mean the tedious opposition in theorists such as Lukacs, Lefebvre etc. between quantitative exchange value and qualitative use-value which forms the basis of their conception of capitalist society as the quantified world of reification taking hold of and veiling the qualitative world of use-value which also becomes associated with human essence. This strikes me as an unhelpful, counterproductive and simplistic way to conceive of capitalism and also contributes to tedious theories about false needs, criticisms of consumption and debates about the normative standpoint of such theories, which do little to consider the coherence of these theories themselves.
At the moment I can’t recall how other schools of 20th century Marxism conceive of use-value. But i think it would be interesting and worthwhile to map the concepts use.