Works of Karl Marx and Georg Simmel

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The works of Karl Marx and Georg Simmel shows an ambiguous and complicated relationship when it comes to their discourse on the consumption world. It was Marx who has introduced several concepts in regard to issues such as capitalism, modernity, culture and other socio-economic and socio-political arguments.


The so-called "commodity fetishism," as Marx (1976) tell us, is the fact that a "definite social relation between men themselves' assumes here, for the, the fantastic form of a relation between things, [or] to the producers' the social relations between their private labours appear' as material relations between persons and social relations between things." (p. 165) This concept was conceived wherein humans are the real actors whose social relationality was obscured in the reified commodity form. (Brah & Coombes 2000, p. 116)
The concept of "autonomy of objective culture", on the other hand, is Simmel's characterization of the prevalence of monetary relations in modern society. Here, he is suggesting that, paradoxically, it is the fact that money empowers us that accounts for the fragmentation of subjective life and that monetary freedom is abstract and devoid of substance because it becomes alive and valuable only through being incorporated into the substance of real social relations. (Dodd 1999, p. 38) This principle by Simmel is, in a way, an extension of Marx's commodity fetishism to cultural production in line with the idea that objective culture exists in an autonomous realm that follows an immanent developmental logic. ...
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