Commodification Definition and Overview

Commodification is how goods, ideas, personal information, services, people, or even nature are transformed into products for trading. Merchandise is anything that has economic value or a product that is intended for trade. Commodification is majorly criticized because some things such as education, water, culture, human life, and women should not be considered commodities. Things such as human organs, human trafficking, and paid surrogacy are illegal in many countries, but still, there is a vast market for them (Zimmerman and Kiss 6). Individuals are also commoditized when they are selling their labor to an employer on the market. The commodification of women, subcultures and human life is obnoxious, offensive, and dangerous to human survival.

Robin Wall Kimmerer, in her work “The Gift of Strawberries,” states that when she was growing up, things such as strawberries were given freely, but in modern society, they have been commoditized. Modern society has gone ahead and commoditized women as personal property. This commoditization in communities is depicted through their languages and conceptual representations (Zimmerman and Kiss 6). The Western Balkans’ conceptualization of women has led to the rise of a conceptual metaphor that women are cars. According to research, this metaphor is widely used among communities speaking Bosnian, Serbian, Montenegrin, and Croatian. This shows that the involved communities view women as objects that can be acquired and disposed of according to their owners (men). Conceptual metaphors stick on individuals’ minds and are difficult to erase.

Human trafficking is a global challenge that has been there for decades. Human beings have been turned into commodities that can be sold to anyone in the black market as long as they have the money. People are being sold as slaves, or their body organs are harvested and tended to willing buyers. The whole trade of human beings and human organs is dehumanizing and dangerous to the human race’s survival. People are trafficked to perform various jobs in the plantation, and agriculture sector, domestic servitude, commercial fishing, forced sex, and textile factories (Zimmerman and Kiss 6). It is a multidimensional human rights abuse that is majorly based on exploitation. Individuals who are trafficked go through abuse, forced marriage, forced labor, and poor pay. They are also put under poor working conditions that threaten their health and wellbeing.

Subculture has also been turned into a commodity all over the world. Commodification starts when media companies develop a subculture and advertise it in various stations, retail, and media, to attract extensive spectators. The commodification of subcultures leads to their resistance being mainstreamed, and hence everybody starts to practice it, making a subculture stop being resistant to the broader society (González 8). Many subcultures do not like commodification because it leads to diminished meaning as more people consume it.

People often complain about commodification because it leads to the erosion of social values. For instance, human commodification, such as human trafficking, leads to the violation of individuals’ rights. It is also connected with undesirable globalization that causes native worth and legitimacy diffusion when an indigenous culture is aligned with the global economy. Our economy is capitalistic, and it greatly depends on commoditization. There are so many things such as education, water supply, nature, and personal information that have been commoditized. These commodities have led to the creation of employment and infrastructure development, making our country compete favorably on a global scale. There should be regulations put in place to govern the type of products being commoditized. Commoditization of things can lead to economic growth and development, and governments should control the variety of products being commoditized and strive to end human trafficking.


González, Antonio Cambra. “Communication, Class and the Commodified Self: Exploring the Divergent Pathways to Celebrity in the Electro Dance Subculture”. Celebrity Studies, 2020, p. 8. Web.

Zimmerman, Cathy, and Ligia Kiss. “Human Trafficking and Exploitation: A Global Health Concern”. vol 14, no. 11, 2017, p. 6. Public Library of Science (Plos). Web.

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