2003 volume 21(3) pages 359 – 372

Cite as:
Miller D, 2003, "Could the Internet defetishise the commodity?" Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 21(3) 359 – 372

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Could the Internet defetishise the commodity?

Daniel Miller

Received 12 October 2001; in revised form 5 April 2002

Abstract. This paper is in three parts. In the first I summarise and argue for the continued importance of the critique associated with the fetishism of the commodity. In the second part I report on an ethnographic study of the Internet and the lessons learned for how it could most effectively be used. In the third part I present the outline of a programme for inclusion within the school geography curriculum to use the Internet to educate children in their responsibilities as consumers. This consists of following three products, all of which are personalised to the children as end consumers. Using the Internet they would follow all stages of production, distribution, transportation, and the combination of elements that constitute the commodity. All such processes are seen through the labour of those involved. The result may not fully defetishise the commodity in respect to wider issues of power and control, but it might turn the current interest in commodity chains into an attempt to transform the consciousness of consumers for the benefit of producers.

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