Posts Tagged ‘commodification’


Within the last two years or so, there has been a huge spike and demand for recipes, meals, and lifestyle trends that consist of including avocados. While they are common staples for sushi and guacamole dips, they’ve recently become a full-blown trend. You see them in sandwiches. You see them in salads. You see them in shakes. Within a few months, recipes like avocado soup, avocado frosting, avocado face-masks, and avocado muffins have invaded the Facebook newsfeed!

Don’t get me wrong, I have always liked avocados -even before the epidemic.

Sure, avocados have great health benefits. For instance, biotin is great for promoting hair growth and the fatty acids are great benefits to the skin. However, there aren’t any super powers that lie beneath the green, bumpy, skin.

So…why the hype? I think it has to do with Food Marketing. The media, digital or print, culture has been an assistive tool for advertisers to associate needs and desires to goods and services. Our society is submerged in a culture of commodification, consumption, consumerism, and commercialism. You can almost categorize this ‘avocado-pandemic’ to Marx’s notion of the obsessive desired to commodify goods. However, avocados are not the only foods that are affected by food advertising. The fandom list continues:

– Salted Caramel
– Pumpkin Spice
– Kale
– Sriracha Sauce

Note: the content in the video may be sensitive to some viewers.

The introductory reading, from Holt and Schor, about commodification got me thinking about the Japanese love industry. It is fascinating – yet scary – how Japan has commodified almost every aspect of a ‘being in a relationship’ into a culture of consumption and materialism. It has come to the point where Japan has the fastest negative population growth in the world! With services of recreational love and affection with no strings attached, like the Host or the Cuddle Cafe, it almost makes you wonder what is next…

After reading the introduction to A Consumer Society, the section that struck me most was the one that briefly describes alternatives to a consumer society. A few different strategies are mentioned in this section including Elgin’s strategy which is a simply “just say no” attitude to consumerism. Another strategy expressed by Lasn encourages “culture jammers,” which is basically the use of “sub-vertising, de-marketing, and the un-cooling of everything from fashion to fast food to auto transport. The final alternative supports an environmental perspective as it focuses on the amount of natural resources that we devastate and consume.

In my own view I don’t believe that there are any alternatives to a consumer society, even after reading the examples in the text. As mentioned by Collin, I also believe that almost all of our activities are commodified in one way or another. I would go even further to stress this fact as it does not only apply to facebook, or the latest phone craze. If we go back to Wednesday’s lecture and recall the Professors words we can see that commodities surround our everyday habits, such as sleep. In addition, the same circumstances surround camping. An activity that would normally be seen as an escape from a consumer society actually supports this idea of consumerism. From the tents we set up to the sleeping bags we sleep in all of this is part of a consumer society.

While we may be able to downshift what we buy, I do not believe that there is any way to escape from a consumer society.

Blog post – Colin Drake

After reading the introduction of the Consumer Society Reader, I’ve come to understand that almost, if not all of our day to day activities are being commodified in one way or another. Our choices on what we choose to purchase, where to purchase it, how much of it to purchase etc., in my opinion, have been influenced by some sort of direct or even subliminal type of advertising that is based on our fabricated ‘preferences’.  In the text, the authors mention that “advertisers have been successful because they have been able to embed valued meanings in products…the corporation both creates the want and satisfies it” ( Schor & Holt p. xi -xii).  Some of us associate with a certain brand because we like it, or because it holds some sort of meaning,  identity, status and/or moral value attached to it. Think of our cell phones. Some of us may prefer using an iPhone rather than a Blackberry for example.  Some of us might also be loyal to one brand more so than the other. Even on the internet, some of us may also have a preference in the type of social networking platforms we use. Some may choose Facebook, some may choose MySpace. One platform may seem ‘cooler’ or more efficient than the other because of the value or identity attached to it by its users.

In this digital age, many of us are using texting and social networking platforms to communicate with each other. Some of us may use Facebook to keep in touch with our friends. Since we are constantly updating our lives on Facebook, and texting our friends on a regular basis, most of us are unaware of the privacy and surveillance implications of these devices and platforms. As well, some of us may or may not know that the time we spend on these things producing information (a form of immaterial labour) is also being commodified through these devices and platforms as well. Our information is being bought and sold without us even knowing it. (Have you ever noticed the pop up ads on your Facebook page, or Gmail account and how they may relate, or seem similar to your ‘interests’, ‘preferences’ or ‘topic of conversation’ in an email?)

In my opinion it seems in this day and age, everything is becoming a commodity. Even our personal and digital information! In our capitalist society we have become convinced that the market itself is the source of all our needs, wants, desires and also the solution to all of our problems. If everything (even our information) has become a commodity in the marketplace, is our only agency in and through the market itself?