Critique of Commodification

Contours of a Post-Capitalist Society
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  • Verlag: Oxford University Press
  • 01.01.2021
  • Buch
  • 224 Seiten
  • Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-19-757676-2
  • AutorInnen: Christoph Hermann
  • Buchtitel: Critique of Commodification
  • Untertitel: Contours of a Post-Capitalist Society
  • ISBN: 978-0-19-757676-2
  • Verlag: Oxford University Press
  • Produktart: Buch
  • Seiten: 224
  • Erscheinung: 01.01.2021
  • Einband: Paperback
  • Format: 157 x 236 mm

This book explores the intellectual history, nature, and consequences of commodification. While many use the term “commodification,” few realize that it was only introduced in the 1970s by Marxist scholars in Britain and the United States. However, while Marxists initially used commodification to challenge capitalism, subsequent scholars used it mainly to criticize certain markets and certain forms of exchange. The result is what this book identifies as moral and pragmatic critiques of commodification. In contrast, this book follows the materialist critique and, subsequently, argues that commodification entails the subjugation of use value, or usefulness, to market value, or the ability to generate profit. To capture this process, the book distinguishes between formal, real, and fictitious commodification. While capitalism depends on commodity production, the extent of commodification can differ, depending on market regulation and public provision. The book examines a range of neoliberal policies that promoted (re)commodification, including privatization, liberalization, and deregulation. The primacy of profits over needs has major consequences on how social needs are satisfied. The book identifies twelve consequences that have troubling effects for social reproduction and the environment, including the exclusion of those who cannot pay, the focus on highly profitable wants at the expense of less profitable but socially more relevant needs, collectivization of costs, and speculation. Given the negative effects, the book also discusses limits of commodification and argues that the ecological limit is the most dramatic one. In order to avoid catastrophic decommodification, the book proposes an alternative that is based on the maximization of use value rather than market value.

Christoph Hermann, author Lecturer, Department of History, University of California, Berkeley

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