Kiistanalaiset tavarat. Tavaraistumisen ja tavaran statuksesta luopumisen rajoista

Contested Commodities. Commoditization, De-commoditization and their Limits

In this paper I consider commoditization and its twin, de- commoditization, as two entangled registers of meanings and institutionally embedded frames of relevance, to the point that the cash nexus is intertwined with, rather than opposed to, trust and intimate relations. To capture the complexity of the processes of consumption, I thus propose to consider consumption as a context of ‘re- framing’ whereby goods are ‘keyed’ as other than commodities: through a variety of de-commoditization practices social actors enter into a dialog with the market, and even battle against it, to appropriate standardised commodities and to transform them into goods with personal meaning. While not an essence, the commodity frame is thus hegemonic in contemporary culture: and this is not because it ‘colonizes’ all as apocalyptic views maintain, but because it sets the (often negative) reference point against which the identities of consumers are constituted. I will also look at some examples of how, on the background of the object/subject dialectic which is expressed by the notion of consumer sovereignty, commoditization is bounded and consumption as de-commoditization is normalized.

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