Commodity Fetishism and Consumer Senses: Turn-of-the-Twentieth-Century Consumer Activism in the United States and England

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Tad Skotnicki, Assistant Professor (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: At the turn of the twentieth century, the National Consumers’ League, the Co-operative Wholesale Society, and the Women's Co-operative Guild encouraged people to become ethical consumers. I argue that we can explain their common strategies by invoking commodity fetishism. By casting their consumer activism as a practical response to the fetish of commodities, we explain: 1) activists’ use of sensory techniques – both figurative and literal – to connect producers, commodities, and consumers and 2) their commitment to the ethical power of the senses. This account reveals the virtues of commodity fetishism as a tool for understanding the dynamics of consumer activism.

Additional Information

Journal of Historical Sociology, Vol. 30, No. 3: 619-649
Language: English
Date: 2017
consumer activism, Marx, phenomenology, capitalism

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