The Critique of Commodification: Contours of a Post-Capitalist Society

ISBN : 9780197576755

Christoph Hermann
224 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Sep 2021
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In recent years activists around the globe have challenged the commodification of water, education, health care, and other essential goods, while academics have warned from unintended effects when everything can be bought and sold. But what is commodification? And what is the problem with commodification? In The Critique of Commodification, Christoph Hermann argues that commodification entails production for profit rather than social needs, and that production for profit has a number of harmful effects, including the exclusion of those who cannot pay, the marginalization of those whose collective purchasing power is not large enough, and the focus on highly profitable forms of production over more socially beneficial and ecologically sustainable alternatives. Drawing upon and extending the work of Marx, Polyani, and Luxemburg, Hermann goes beyond the standard moral critiques of markets and adopts a materialist approach to emphasize the dispossession of public resources and to highlight how goods and services are altered when sold on markets for profit. Tracing the intellectual history of the term commodification, this book not only criticizes commodification, but also proposes a new model for production that focuses on needs rather than profits.


Chapter 1: The Critique of Commodification
Chapter 2: A Theory of Commodification
Chapter 3: Politics of Commodification
Chapter 4: Consequences of Commodification
Chapter 5: Limits of Commodification
Chapter 6: Rediscovering Use Value
Chapter 7: Alternatives to Commodification: Use Value Society

About the author: 

Christoph Hermann is a political economist who teaches in the Department of History, University of California, Berkeley. Before moving to the US, he taught at the University of Vienna and the Berlin School of Economics and Law. His previous books include Capitalism and the Political Economy of Work Time (2015) and the edited volume Privatization of Public Services: Impacts on Employment, Working Conditions and Service Quality in Europe (2012).

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