Follow-up: capitalism and anti-capitalism
Geographers at Work: theory and research on scale and capitalism

Commodifying yourself

A topic we discussed on R was the extent to which capitalism influences people to turn themselves into commodities.

This article develops this idea further by arguing that capitalism, as an economic system and an ideology, encourages us to accept "productivity" as a primary measure of value or self-worth. The author's own awareness of this practice comes from being disabled, which inhibits her from being "productive" in what is seen as a normal way. However, she makes the case that, in cultural terms, we are all "disabled" by this way of valuing ourselves and others, and, yet, it is deeply embedded in what people in capitalist places do everyday.

One interesting question to think about is whether this kind of thinking would be changed if we participated more in alternative economies, like the ones discussed in class and in this entry, or would we still value ourselves primarily in terms how "productive" we are even with an alternative economy?


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Geremiah Maxie

I believe that if we were put in an alternative economy we would still value ourselves off of productivity. I think some of our view could change and we would have different opinions on self value but ultimately productivity would still be the the primary source of self value.

Peggy  Smith

I think a majority of human beings would enjoy living for their own pleasure. What I mean is, if you had a high, stress and high paying job, say in marketing, would you feel more or less fulfilled with your life, spending time helping others, play with your children or walk your dog? Is it considered non productive volunteering in a homeless shelter? How do you think you would feel about productivity as you age? Or, in your youth, suffered a debilitating event? Could you adapt to a new idea of productivity.


I agree with Peggy. I think that people tend to find fulfillment and happiness in spending time with others, doing what they love, not working just to earn money etc. Being productive in your day automatically puts you in a better mood and will make you feel successful. Productivity would definitely become a value in an alternative economy.

 McKenzie Brown

I agree with Peggy as well, many people find joy and fulfillment in interpersonal relationships, or find new ideas of productivity when one has suffered an event that causes them to not be "normal". However, I think that the majority of people, due to societal pressure and our current capitalist economy, most people find value (or market themselves) based on productivity.

It also depends what alternative economy is to determine if one values themselves based on productivity. For instance, in the past, with the hunting and gathering economy, people were still valued based on their productivity (in gathering, hunting, or crafting what was needed or could be traded). After, when the economy switched to being agriculture focused, people were still valued based on productivity. However, in the Futile Economy when the surf's were valued based on productivity, the aristocrats and the sovereign king were not.

Jeanette Betancourt

I agree with Mckenzie and Peggy, it depends on the alternative economy. Finding enjoyment helping others is something very important and productive to do at any time. For example, I want to become a teacher and just by helping children at my job in a school is such a great feeling knowing I can change lives. It does not only affect others but yourself as well. Productivity would be much valued through an alternative economy in order to succeed.

Jiayue Wang

People work not only for earn money, they work for meaningful life, holding their family, meet with friends, those social intersection full their life. Only productive will push the social to develop, so even we participated more in alternative economies, we will still value ourselves primarily through productive, because the social running through "productive".

Yifan Lu

I agree with Jiayue. If I participated more in alternative economies, I think I would still focus on my intentions through productivity. I want to make money in order to have a meaningful life, and realize my dream. I believe that people work hard for a better life, and everyone wants to be happy everyday.

Kamalei P.

I agree with everyone else in the comments. To want to do what you love and to be able to do what you love, has its own type of fulfillment in itself. Ever since I was young I wanted to help people emotionally, since I can relate to a lot of people without judging them. So my dream job would be to become a therapist or a psychologist and be able to wake up every morning, knowing that I'm going help someone solve something will have its own type of enjoyment in itself.

alyssa orozco

I think that if I were to be in a different economy from that what I'm used to I would still be determined to do what I believe is the right choice for me my beliefs and what I love. I agree everyone by saying that I wouldn't only work for money, but the fulfillment that my work brings myself. Even though were in a different location we still value what we want. Productivity Productivity is still valued even though you're somewhere else.

Matt Herbert

I resonate with the feeling of value as a result of productivity. After a productive day of completing homework, running errands, being busy, and overall getting things done, I feel really great about myself. During a day that I haven't accomplished a lot, it is easy for me to feel more negative about myself. After reading this article I am beginning to understand how the structure and ideologies of productivity that have been modeled and taught to me throughout the years have played (still play) a role in how I recognize my self worth. It can be easy to let productivity define us, especially if we aren't focused on the interpersonal relationship aspects that Peggy and Kaylee talk about. If we revisit the famous question "What is the meaning of life?" we can determine the essentials of who and what we live for, as well has why and how we live for them. We should be careful not to let anything else define our identity and how we feel about ourselves.

John Stone

I feel like people naturally want to do what makes them happy, and what they feel is right. Whenever I have a productive day or finish a big assignment, I feel good about it. When someone does something they like to do, then they're probably going to feel good about doing it, and I don't imagine that would change in a different economy.

Ming Ng

If I were put in an alternative economy I would still value myself as productive. I see myself as productive because wherever you go or whatever you do, you are always going to leave an impact or trace behind. However, everyone has a different definition of what being productive may mean to them and how they measure other's productiveness.

Christian Hammerich

I agree with Peggy. A lot of people I know including myself feel good about themselves and fulfilled about what they just did when they volunteer time at a homeless shelter. Even with implementing a new economy I still feel that productivity would have a lot to do with self worth. After finishing an assignment or studying for hours for a test and getting a good grade on it, I feel good about myself and what I accomplished

Ana Bautista

I think that most people are happy based on their productivity. People think like that because of the pressure the society puts on us. You need to make money so that you can buy luxury items. If we practiced in an alternative economy I honestly do not think we would succeed just because the pressure of our society are tremendous.

Yazmin Hernandez

I agree with what most of my peers stated above. If we were to have an alternative economy where we valued other things such as happiness we would be better off. But if we were to change the economic system we have take into account that not everyone would change. Some people would still value productivity.
The best way in which everyone could be happy but still productive is finding a job where we they can productive but also help others and be happy.

Emily Miller

I am also in agreement with many of you. I think that it is important to be productive, but being productive should go beyond just how successful you are in your career. You can be productive in spending time with family and friends, and nurturing those relationships. You can also be productive in doing the things you love, like your hobbies and travelling. We tend to put too much emphasis on our job title, how much money we have, and all of the things we own. We should really try to value the little things in life more.

Kaylee Mok

I think that if we were to participate in alternative economies, we would recognize personal non-productivity, but we would still value ourselves in other terms then our productivity. From our classes thus far in cultural geography, I've noticed that everyone reacts differently to what goes on in the world. So, I think that it could vary. Some people may only value themselves in terms of productivity, while others value different aspects of their life.

Rachel Rosenbaum

I believe that we tried to run in an alternative economy our world we become more understanding. I think everybody has a very one sided view at times and forgets to include other peoples points of view.

Samantha Sanchez

Perhaps in alternative economics there would be less pressures of productivity that stem from socialization under capitalism. The article illustrated how our economic growth is based on measures such as GDP. We discussed a couple alternative economies that may debatably take the focus away from this. One was an hour exchange idea where people exchange their time in exchange for another service; people aren't really profiting in this economy. Another economy that we discussed is the gift where people choose to simply give away goods or perhaps services.

Sam Combs

I think that being productive is a perspective, not a focused definition. I think that even something that seems counterproductive to the majority can be productive to the individual. I think that the capitalist mentality is not what drives our internal motives or goals.

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