Non-commodified labour

Authored by: Colin C. Williams

The Routledge Companion to Alternative Organization

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415782265
eBook ISBN: 9780203725351
Adobe ISBN: 9781135005399


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A popular and recurring assumption across academia and beyond is that commodification is steadily stretching its tentacles wider and deeper into everyday life and that its continuing encroachment is inevitable, inescapable and irreversible. In other words, goods and services are viewed as increasingly being produced for monetized exchange for the purpose of financial gain, while non-commodified labour practices, which do not involve monetized exchange and/or are not driven by the profit-motive, disappear as commodified labour colonizes every nook and cranny of daily life. Since the turn of the millennium, however, a small but growing tributary of post-structural, post-development, post-colonial and critical scholarship has started to question this depiction of commodification by drawing attention to the persistence of non-commodified labour practices in contemporary economies. The aim of this chapter is to review this emergent stream of literature and to provide an analytical lens for both evaluating critically the reach of commodification as well as displaying the continuing existence of non-commodified labour practices in contemporary societies. The intention in so doing is to open up the future to alternative forms of organizing and organization.

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