Commodification and Its Discontents
Commodification and Its Discontents
Should human organs be bought and sold? Is it right that richer people should be able to pay poorer people to wait in a queue for them? Should objects in museums ever be sold? The assumption underlying such questions is that there are things that should not be bought and sold because it would give them a financial value that would replace some other, and dearly held, human value. Those who ask questions of this kind often fear that the replacement of human by money values – a process of commodification – is sweeping all before it. 

However, as Nicholas Abercrombie argues, commodification can be, and has been, resisted by the development of a moral climate that defines certain things as outside a market. That resistance, however, is never complete because the two regimes of value – human and money – are both necessary for the sustainability of society. His analysis of these processes offers a thought-provoking read that will appeal to students and scholars interested in market capitalism and culture.
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  • December 2020
  • 224 pages
  • 160 x 232 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $69.95
  • 9781509529810
  • Paperback $26.95
  • 9781509529827
  • Open eBook $22.00
  • 9781509529841
Table of Contents

1. Money Talk 

Part One: Case-Studies

2. Land

3. Bodies

4. Books

Part Two: Resistance to Commodification

5. Sacredness and Property

6. Moral Regulation

7. Moral Climate, Ideology and Intellectuals

8. Moral Complexity


About the Author
Nick Abercrombie is Emeritus Professor of Sociology at Lancaster University.
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"As ever-wider domains of social life are relentlessly subject to the brutality of the price mechanism, populaces increasingly aspire to a new moral economy. In this deeply researched historical sociology, Abercrombie identifies the mechanisms, practices, and contingent conditions necessary to successfully defy commodification and establish alternative “regimes of value”. The result makes an essential contribution to the urgent task of establishing a new social justice economy."
Margaret Somers, University of Michigan

"This book shows that contrary to many theoretical accounts of modern economies 'commodification' need not be an all-or-nothing affair. Through illuminating analyses of concrete examples, Nick Abercrombie shows how in practice there are often degrees of commodification and moral regulation and explains how the relations between them have been constructed."
Andrew Sayer, Lancaster University
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