Defining Commodification

Dr. Robison looks into what commodification is and how its definition is used.

Dr. Robison looks into what commodification is and how its definition is used.

October 5, 2018 - Author:

Commodification is a widely used and inconsistently defined concept. Inconsistent definitions of commodification, this paper observes, exist because alternative outcomes and consequences of commodities are confused with the definition of commodification. A consistent definition of commodification would help us identify, exchange information about, and encourage (discourage) commodifying exchanges. 

We define commodification as social exchanges that convert relational goods into commodities. In rationalizing inconsistent definitions of commodification, we distinguish between commodities (goods valued for their ability to satisfy physical needs) and relational goods (goods valued at least in part for their connections to people which enables them to satisfy socio-emotional needs). The process of commodification is described as relocating relational goods from the humanistic sphere and relocating them in the commodity sphere. 

Read Rationalizing Inconsistent Definitions of Commodification: A Social Exchange Perspective by Jeffery Oliver and Lindon Robison.


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