By Kaj Illomen
Kaj Ilmonen was once a pioneer within the 3rd wave of the sociology of intake. This book provides a balanced assessment of the sociology of intake, arguing that the passion of 'the 3rd wave' exaggerated the position of the symbolic and imaginary on the rate of the materiality of human societies.
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Additional info for A Social and Economic Theory of Consumption
Without this institutional distinction, it was not possible to turn labour, land and money into commodities that could be bought and sold anonymously on the commodity markets. Initially, however, they were not commodities. Labour was only another name for human activity, land another name for nature and money merely a token of purchasing power (Polanyi 1957, 72). The production of commodities required that segments of the population in different states were legally defined as vagrant so that they could be used as forced labour in factories.
That, in turn, is dependent on the cultural meaning given to the commodity. This is what Marshall Sahlins (1976, 169) had in mind when he said that use value ‘is not a quality of the object but a significance of the objective qualities’. This refers to something entirely different than the physical aspect of the commodity. Therefore, describing a skirt, in Western culture, as a ‘feminine’ garment has little to do with what it is made of or how it is used; this is just a cultural convention of thought that has no validity in, say, Egyptian or Indian culture.
It is hardly an exaggeration to say that the concept of freedom advocated by neo-liberal economic doctrine, at least Hayek’s and Friedman’s version, is deeply one-sided. This is evidenced, among other things, by Friedman’s failure to provide any serious analysis of the institutional conditions for the operation of the markets. indd 23 11/3/2010 1:38:34 AM A Social and Economic Theory of Consumption von Mises, Spencer and Lippman all uncritically follow Smith’s notion of commodity exchange in archaic communities and assume that this exchange is driven by the pursuit of economic benefit.
A Social and Economic Theory of Consumption by Kaj Illomen