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Chapter 5 - There Is No “More Commodification”: Periodizing Capitalist Transformation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  12 March 2022

Colleen Lye
University of California, Berkeley
Christopher Nealon
Johns Hopkins University
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This essay offers a historical scope of the concept of “commodification” as it has come to dominate Marxist and liberal critiques of contemporary capitalist culture. It traces how the term “commodification” emerged out of Marx’s original term, “the commodity form,” and it explores the gap between these two important but different concepts. The essay asks: what is commodification, and why do so many critics understand it to be a process of intensification and historical change? Further, it questions whether it is possible to conceive of commodification as a term of stasis and not progress. Ultimately, the essay argues that the received understanding of “commodification” as a capitalist process needs to be rethought to consider how the term also functions as capitalist narrative, one which structures how critics analyze history, periodization, and transformation under capitalism.

After Marx
Literature, Theory, and Value in the Twenty-First Century
, pp. 86 - 100
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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