Rethinking Commodification: Cases and Readings in Law and Culture / Edition 1

Rethinking Commodification: Cases and Readings in Law and Culture / Edition 1

Pub. Date:
New York University Press
Pub. Date:
New York University Press
Rethinking Commodification: Cases and Readings in Law and Culture / Edition 1

Rethinking Commodification: Cases and Readings in Law and Culture / Edition 1


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What is the price of a limb? A child? Ethnicity? Love? In a world that is often ruled by buyers and sellers, those things that are often considered priceless become objects to be marketed and from which to earn a profit. Ranging from black market babies to exploitative sex trade operations to the marketing of race and culture, Rethinking Commodification presents an interdisciplinary collection of writings, including legal theory, case law, and original essays to reexamine the traditional legal question: 'To commodify or not to commodify'”
In this pathbreaking course reader, Martha M. Ertman and Joan C. Williams present the legal cases and theories that laid the groundwork for traditional critiques of commodification, which tend to view the process as dehumanizing because it reduces all human interactions to economic transactions. This “canonical” section is followed by a selection of original essays that present alternative views of commodification based on the concept that commodification can have diverse meanings in a variety of social contexts. When viewed in this way, the commodification debate moves beyond whether or not commodification is good or bad, and is assessed instead on the quality of the social relationships and wider context that is involved in the transaction. Rethinking Commodification contains an excellent array of contemporary issues, including intellectual property, reparations for slavery, organ transplants, and sex work; and an equally stellar array of contributors, including Richard Posner, Margaret Jane Radin, Regina Austin, and many others.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780814722299
Publisher: New York University Press
Publication date: 08/01/2005
Series: Critical America , #52
Pages: 466
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Martha M. Ertman is professor at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law.

Joan C. Williams is Distinguished Professor of Law and Founding Director of the Center for WorkLife Law at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law. She has authored eleven books, including White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America and Unbending Gender: Why Work and Family Conflict and What to Do About It.

Table of Contents

Preface: Freedom, Equality, and the Many Futures of Commodification
Martha M. Ertman and Joan C. Williams
Introduction: The Subject and Object of Commodification
Margaret Jane Radin and Madhavi Sunder
Part I Classic Texts of Commodification Theory
A. Definitions: Commodity and Commodification
B. Contested Commodities: Babies/Parental Rights and Obligations
C. Defaulting to Freedom or to Equality: Treating Some Things as Inalienable
D. Distinguishing between Exchanges and Gifts
E. Commodification and Community
Part II New Voices on Commodification Theory
A. Commodifying Intellectual and Cultural Property
B. Commodifying Identities
C. Commodifying Intimacies
1. Commodifying Sex
2. Commodifying Care
3. Commodifying Family Relations
4. Commodifying Bodies and Body Parts
D. Retheorizing Commodification
Afterword: Whither Commodification?
Carol M. Rose
About the Contributors

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“A superb collection of classic and contemporary readings on commodification theory, including the latest, most advanced theorizing on this subject. It is a must-read.
-Elizabeth Anderson,Philosophy, University of Michigan

“As someone who helped to draw attention to the subject of commodification more than two decades ago, I believe that commodification is, if anything, more important today than it has ever been. We must ask ourselves: Are there some things that money can't buy? Who is advantaged and who disadvantaged by desperate market exchanges? This indispensable collection of old and new thoughts on commodification will help us as we struggle towards answering these questions.”
-Margaret Jane Radin,Stanford Law School

Rethinking Commodification includes several classic texts of commodification theory that familiarize readers with the traditional debate. The work then offers new insights into the issue, with two dozen articles, appellate court opinions, and essays. Taken together, this book comprises an intellecutal mosaic that moves the discussion beyond the early, on-off question of whether or not to commodify.”
-Metapsychology Online


“A magnificent collection. The subject is profound and complex, the text gripping, lively, and thoroughly enjoyable to read.”
-Sylvia A. Law,NYU Law School

“Commodification is on net a great source for good in the world. But the seminal essays in Rethinking Commodification show that the serious questions about alienability are much more than concerns about hypothetical contracts for babies or self-indenture.”
-Ian Ayres,author of Insincere Promises

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