The State and the Market - A Parable: On the State's Commodifying Effects

41 Pages Posted: 1 Dec 2011

See all articles by Tsilly Dagan

Tsilly Dagan

Bar Ilan University

Talia Fisher

Tel Aviv University - Buchmann Faculty of Law; Harvard Law School; Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics

Date Written: November 1, 2011

Abstract

Commodification has become the central parameter in delineating the contours of the market and in the division of labor between the market and the state. The commodification critique has become a 'buzz word' against the market and thus in support of State intervention. In what has been termed "taboo trades" - human organs, reproductive capacities, sexuality and the like - market-based orders have been condemned on the basis of commodification, thus leaving the floor open for state-intervention by regulation. The central argument of this article is that the commodificatory effects, often associated with monetary transactions, are not exclusive to monetized exchanges nor to the market arena. Rather, State intervention, as such, involves similar reductive effects, in light of its inherent itemizing, categorizing and ranking nature. This understanding has a significant implication for the structuring of the market-state debate: In light of the fact that upon closer scrutiny state ordering shares similar commodificatory effects with the market - we argue that it is not enough to raise the commodification banner in order to justify state intervention. Put differently, an implicit premise in the prevailing commodification discourse is that where the market commodifies, the state is necessarily neutral. However, state intervention - we will show - suffers from similar flaws. Another purpose of viewing commodification through the prism of State intervention is to expose the multi-faceted nature of the anti-commodificatory sentiment. Expanding the horizons of the commodification discourse beyond the traditional contexts of taboo markets to the unexplored terrain of state regulation exposes the fact that money is but one instance of a whole family of cases where thick social interactions are translated into a uni-dimensional currency that has a reductive effect on them.

Suggested Citation

Dagan, Tsilly and Fisher, Talia, The State and the Market - A Parable: On the State's Commodifying Effects (November 1, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1966994 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1966994

Tsilly Dagan (Contact Author)

Bar Ilan University ( email )

Ramat Gan
Ramat Gan, 52900
Israel

Talia Fisher

Tel Aviv University - Buchmann Faculty of Law ( email )

Ramat Aviv
Tel Aviv 69978, IL
Israel

Harvard Law School ( email )

1575 Massachusetts
Hauser 406
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Harvard University - Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics ( email )

124 Mount Auburn Street
Suite 520N
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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