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Reification

  • By: Susan L. Wortmann & Jie Gao
  • In: Encyclopedia of Consumer Culture
  • Edited by: Dale Southerton
  • Subject:Sociology of Consumption, Consumer Psychology, Consumer Culture

Reification is a term generally used to critique consumer culture. It describes the moment when people mistakenly see objects of human creation (everything from ideas, to language, to material objects, to our entire society) as real things or objects. People thereby fail to recognize the human creation behind these objects. Reification also refers to the act of abstracting peoples' actions from the people themselves so that human actions falsely appear to take on a life of their own. Conversely, reification has also been seen by some as a necessary social process that maintains ongoing social relations or extends and enhances the self.

Three disparate examples are illustrative of reification. People see other people falsely when they regard individuals as “things,” “types,” or “services” (e.g., “prostitutes,” “fast-food ...

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