Commodification

The term “commodification” names the process whereby things, services, ideas, and people are transformed into objects for sale in a capitalist economic system. It can also refer to the ways in which human practices normally considered to be outside the market, such as art, religion, or medicine, are being integrated into the capitalist marketplace. Taken more broadly, “commodification” signals the expansion of capitalist processes of accumulation across the globe and into every corner of our lives. Under these conditions, in the words of Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, there remains “no other nexus between man and man than naked selfinterest, than callus ‘cash payment’” (Marx and Engels 1998, 20).

While scholars have long been concerned with the impact of commodification on human creativity, communication, culture, politics, and freedom, their work all follows from that of Karl Marx and his foundational analysis of capitalism. For Marx the commodity is key to …

This essay may be found on page 43 of the printed volume.

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