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Towards a Commodified World? Re-Reading Economic Development in Western Economies

Author: COLIN C. WILLIAMS
Published in IJED, Vol. 6 No. 1

A recurring assumption across the social sciences is that nonmarket economic practices are disappearing and being replaced by commodified practices where goods and services are produced and delivered for monetized exchange by capitalist firms for profit-motivated purposes. In this paper, this commodification thesis is evaluated critically. Analyzing the volume of commodified and noncommodified work in the advanced economies, the commodified sphere is revealed to be far from hegemonic and receding rather than penetrating deeper during the last four decades. This is here explained in terms of both the prevalence of resistance cultures to market-ism and the contradictions inherent in the structural shift towards commodification. The outcome is a call to transcend the view of the commodified realm as victorious, all-powerful and hegemonic, and for greater recognition to be given to the feasibility of alternative futures beyond a commodified world.

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