A Critical Evaluation of the Commodification Thesis

The Sociological Review, vol. 50, no. 4, pp. 525-542, 2002

18 Pages Posted: 30 Jun 2013

See all articles by Colin Williams

Colin Williams

University of Sheffield - School of Management

Date Written: 2002

Abstract

A recurring theme across the social sciences is that non-capitalist production is disappearing, albeit slowly and unevenly, and is being replaced by a commodified economy in which goods and services are produced by capitalist firms for a profit under conditions of market exchange. In this paper, however, I evaluate critically this commodification thesis. Even in the heartland of commoditisation - the advanced economies - large economic spaces are identified where alternative economic relations and motives prevail. Rather than view them as leftovers of pre-capitalist formations, this paper argues that they are the result of both the contradictions inherent in the structural shifts associated with the pursuit of commodification as well as the existence of ‘cultures of resistance’. As such, they are viewed as ‘spaces of hope’ which highlight the demonstrable construction and practice of alternative social relations and logic’s of work outside profit-motivated market-orientated exchange.

Keywords: economic sociology, commodification, marketization, informal economy, informalization, informal sector, market societies

JEL Classification: O17

Suggested Citation

Williams, Colin, A Critical Evaluation of the Commodification Thesis (2002). The Sociological Review, vol. 50, no. 4, pp. 525-542, 2002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2286998

Colin Williams (Contact Author)

University of Sheffield - School of Management ( email )

15 Conduit Road
Sheffield, S10 1FL
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/management/staff/williams/index

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