[Marxism] reification (was: Re: file sharing and music: what's "reification"?)

Nick Fredman sra at scu.edu.au
Tue Jun 1 19:03:08 MDT 2004


Looking up reification on Miriam-Webster Online, one is pointed to 
Encloypedia Britannica, which tells us it's:

"the treatment of something abstract as a material or concrete thing, 
as in the following lines from Matthew Arnold's poem 'Dover Beach':

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled. "

I thought is meant something like a social process whereby people 
believe, or pretend for ideological reasons, that something abstract 
is a real or concrete thing, rather than doing such a thing for 
poetic reasons (i.e. the metaphor of the first two lines above). 
Anyway, as I understand it, reification is related to fetishisation, 
as in the first chapter of Capital on commodity fetishisation, 
whereby money is seen as a real concrete thing, when in fact it's an 
abstraction, that represents real social relations. Marx got the 
concept from an analogy to various religions, wherein a fetish (like 
a totem poll of a voodoo doll) is seen as having real, concrete power 
when it in fact represents or obscures real social relations.

I remember hearing a reviewer describe the funny scene in the film of 
American Psycho when the executives compare their business cards as a 
clever representation of fetishisation in capitalism. I've never got 
my head around the difference between reification and fetishisation 
though.
-- 
***********************************

Nick Fredman
Student Rights Advocate
Southern Cross University (Lismore)
Student Representative Council

Shop 9 Plaza, SCU Lismore

Ph: 6620 3044
Email: sra at src.scu.edu.au
web: http://www.lismoresrc.org.au/

*********************************




More information about the Marxism mailing list