Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-19, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 23 January, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2019.


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core definition

Commodification is the transformation of human activity into a commodity.

explanatory context

A commodity is an exchangeable or movable set of goods Marx argued that human labour has become a commodity for trade under capitalism.

analytical review

Leys and Harriss-White (2012) wrote:

The dominant process underlying the transformation of life in all societies, since at least the mid-nineteenth century, is the conversion of things and activities into commodities, or commodification. In advanced capitalist countries this process is now outstripping our political and social capacity to adjust to it. Any useful economic analysis needs to foreground this process. Mainstream economics does not do this.


Encyclopedia of Marxism (undated) states :

Commodification means the transformation of relationships, formerly untainted by commerce, into commercial relationships, relationships of exchange, of buying and selling. “Commodification” is a term that only come into currency in 1977, but expresses a concept fundamental to Marx’s understanding of the way capitalism develops. Marx and Engels described the process in 1848 in the Communist Manifesto.

associated issues


related areas

See also


An Outline Marx’s Methodology with reference to Capital.


Encyclopedia of Marxism, undated, 'Commodification', available at:, accessed 21 December 2016.

Leys, C. and Harriss-White, B. 2012, Commodification: The essence of our time available at:, accessed 21 December 2016.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2019


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