Commodity Fetishism and Hauling – Clare Harper

Posted: January 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

Karl Marx, in his writing, Fetishism of the Commodity and its Secret, critiques the political economy of capitalism by exploring the concept: “commodity fetishism.” Primarily, commodity fetishism can be defined as the collective focus on the economic relationship involved in the exchange of money for commodities, while excluding personal, social relationships. In other words, the perception of social relationships involved in production is concentrated upon at the expense of the appreciation of the laborious efforts involved in production.
Marx explains that consumers focus on commodities as essential, valuable, and almost magical or mystical: placing the product or service on a pedestal while ignoring the actual production processes involved.
As a class we defined the word “fetish” as the elevation of an object higher than it should be; the idea of “magical,” unexplainable qualities; viewing with extra value; and the obsession over an item, person, place, etc. Furthermore, Nathan compared commodity fetishism to sexual fetishism. The example of a person with a foot fetish who is unable to become aroused with the absence of this particular body part helped to clarify the component of fetishism associating the ability to function with the presence of the object or element of desire.
In discussing commodity fetishism as a class, we learned about “Haul” Youtube videos. The term “Haul” video is used to describe a video recording posted to the Internet that display users’ recent purchases. These videos include descriptions of the products and often the price in which they can be purchased for. Haul videos rarely express negative comments towards the items purchased; they are used to promote or simply give praise to products.

The following video, titled, “It’s a Haul World,” describes the relationship between Haul videos and commodity fetishisms. The narrator describes the involvement between these videos and commodity fetishism as, “glorifying the accumulating of material possession… reinforcing the ideas of commodity self as well as commodity fetishism: the idea that your self worth can be measured by what you own.” Furthermore, the narrator explains Theodor Adorno’s addition to Marx’s theory, noting that during consumption, the masses become more characterized by the commodities which they use and exchange among themselves.

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