Problems with the defetishization thesis: ethical consumerism, alternative food systems, and commodity fetishism [Book Review]

Agriculture and Human Values 31 (1):109-117 (2014)
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Abstract

The defetishization thesis claims alternative markets can lead to a more honest, less mystified relationship with food production and, in turn, strengthen civil society. Drawing from Marxian political economic and environmental sociological theory, I make three general claims: capitalism is inherently ecologically and socially harmful; “ethical” commodities derived from alternative markets cannot fundamentally counteract the pervasiveness and scale of ; and, because of and, ethical consumerism does not defetishize the commodity form, but acts as a new layer of commodity fetishism that masks the harms of capitalism by convincing society that the harms of capitalism can be rehabilitated with the commodity form itself. Prescriptively, I argue traditional, large-scale political tactics would be needed for “defetishization” to take place

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