Rethinking the Commercialization of Everyday Life: A ‘Whole Economy’ Perspective

14 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2015

See all articles by Colin Williams

Colin Williams

University of Sheffield - School of Management

Sara Nadin

University of Liverpool

Date Written: 2010


Purpose – A dominant belief is that the continuing encroachment of the market economy into everyday life is inevitable, unstoppable and irreversible. Over the past decade, however, a small stream of thought has started to question this commercialization thesis. This paper seeks to contribute to this emergent body of thought by developing a “whole economy” approach for capturing the multifarious economic practices in community economies and then applying this to an English locality.

Design/methodology/approach – A survey conducted of the economic practices used by 120 households in a North Nottinghamshire locality in England is here reported that comprised face-to-face interviews in an affluent, middle-ranking and deprived neighborhood.

Findings – This reveals the limited commercialization of everyday life and the persistence of a multitude of economic practices in all neighborhood-types. Participation rates in all economic practices (except one-to-one unpaid work and “off-the-radar” unpaid work) are higher in relatively affluent populations. Uneven development is marked by affluent populations that are “work busy” engaging in a diverse spectrum of economic practices conducted more commonly out of choice, and disadvantaged populations that are more “work deprived” conducting a narrower array of activities usually out of necessity.

Research limitations/implications – This snapshot survey only displays that commercialization is not hegemonic. It does not display whether there is a shift towards commercialization.

Implications for society – Recognition of the limited encroachment of the market opens up the future to alternative possibilities beyond an inevitable commercialization of everyday life.

Originality/value – This paper provides evidence from a western nation of the limited commercialization of daily life and persistence of multifarious economic practices.

Keywords: commercialisation, commoditisation, marketisation, livelihoods, informal economy, England

JEL Classification: H26, J46, K42, O17

Suggested Citation

Williams, Colin and Nadin, Sara, Rethinking the Commercialization of Everyday Life: A ‘Whole Economy’ Perspective (2010). Foresight, Vol. 12, No. 6, pp. 55-68, 2010, Available at SSRN:

Colin Williams (Contact Author)

University of Sheffield - School of Management ( email )

15 Conduit Road
Sheffield, S10 1FL
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://

Sara Nadin

University of Liverpool ( email )

Chatham Street
Liverpool, L69 7ZH
United Kingdom

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics