Commodity Fetishism

Topics: Labor theory of value, Use value, Exchange value Pages: 2 (576 words) Published: April 9, 2013
According to, a fetish can be termed as an object of irrational reverence or obsessive devotion. Fetishism can hence be described as the act of irrationally revering an object by obsessing over it. The origin of the term ‘fetishism’

The modern meaning of the term ‘fetish’ was is agreed to have originated from the work of Charles de Brosses writing in 1760 who used the term to describe the religious practices of worshipping objects and referring to them as gods, a practice that had been recorded by travellers to West Africa (Pietz, 1993). The theory of commodity fetishism

Commodity fetishism is the process of ascribing unrealistic qualities to an object, whereby the human labour required making that object is lost once the object is associated with a monetary value for exchange.  The object’s value appears to come from the commodity, rather than the human labour that produced it. Under capitalism, once the object emerges as a commodity that has been assigned a monetary value for equivalent universal exchange, it is fetishized, meaning that consumers come to believe that the object has intrinsic value in and of itself. For instance thinking wearing a certain brand of shoes worn by a certain media symbol will give you similar characteristics to those of the celebrity in question. For example wearing Nike soccer boots will make one play like the famous Nike-endorsed Cristiano Ronaldo. Use-value versus Exchange-value

In his works, Carl Marx distinguishes the user-value of commodities from their exchange-value. The user value is the use that the commodity has to the labourer or the creator of the product whereas the exchange value is the use the commodity has to the fetishized value that they have as commodities. Marx defined a commodity as an article produced from the start for large-scale market exchange rather than for its own immediate consumption. The product becomes increasingly one-sided when in commodity form. Its immediate...
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