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andrew edgar

Subject Sociology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631221647.2002.x


This term refers to the process by which the products of the subjective action of human beings come to appear as objective, and so autonomous from humanity. However, two broad uses of the term may be identified. In the Marxist tradition the term is used critically, to describe a process that is specific to capitalism, and that serves to maintain the inequalities of a capitalist society by concealing actual processes of exploitation. In the non-Marxist tradition, and especially in phenom-enological approaches (see P henomenology ), rein-cation is presented as an inevitable feature of all societies, as part of the social construction of reality. Within Marxism, the term ‘reification’ occurs as the standard English translation of the German Verding lie hung , which was introduced by Gyorgy Lukacs (1923, pp. 83–222) and does not occur in Marx's writings. Lukacs's theory of reification is a generalization of Marx's theory of C ommodity fetishism . For Marx, the process of exchanging the products of human labour on a commodity market leads to the social relationship between people appearing as a relationship between things (Marx, 1867, pp. 163–5). Lukacs attempts to extend Marx's economic analysis to the total life of society. He does this through reference to Weber's analysis of the growth of rationality. Instrumental rationality is integral to the development of the capitalist economy, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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