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Decommodification and Egalitarian Political Economy

Lookup NU author(s): John Vail

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Abstract

This article contends that decommodification is an appropriate concept for understanding diverse initiatives such as fair trade, microfinance, open source, social enterprises, and the environmental commons as component features of a common process. Decommodification is conceived as any political, social, or cultural process that reduces the scope and influence of the market in everyday life. Given recent transformations in market societies, a more expansive framework for decommodification is urgently required. Decommodification would insulate non-market spheres from market encroachments; increase the provision of public goods and expand social protection; promote democratic control over the market by creating economic circuits grounded in a logic predicated on social needs rather than profit; and undermine market hegemony by revealing the market’s true social costs and consequences. By ensuring basic needs, enhancing individual capacities and capabilities, and promoting social cooperation and collaboration, decommodification constitutes a central feature of an egalitarian agenda.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Vail J

Publication type: Article

Journal: Politics & Society

Year: 2010

Volume: 38

Issue: 3

Pages: 310-346

Print publication date: 01/09/2010

ISSN (print): 0032-3292

ISSN (electronic): 1552-7514

Publisher: Sage Publications Inc.

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0032329210373069

DOI: 10.1177/0032329210373069


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