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Commoditisation and consumption

The growth of capitalism around the world has meant the extension of markets into places and spheres of life that were previously untouched by this system.Commodification occurs when things that were earlier not traded in the market become commodities.For instance labour or skills become things that can be bought and sold.According to Marx and other critics of capitalism,the process of commodification has negative social effects.There is a controversy about the sale of kidneys by the poor to cater to rich patients who need kidney transplants.In modern society almost everyone accepts the idea that a person's labour can be bought or that other services or skills can be provided in exchange for money.

In contemporary India the things or processes that earlier were not part of market exchange become commodified.Traditionally marriages were arranged by families but now there are professional marriage bureaus and websites that help people to find brides and grooms for a fee.

Another important feature of capitalist society is that consumption becomes more and more important not just for economic reasons but because it has symbolic meaning.In modern societies consumption is an important way in which social distinctions are created and communicatied.The consumer conveys a message about his or her socio-economic status or cultural preferences by buying and displaying certain goods and companies try to sell their goods by appealing to symbols of status or culture.Max Weber had pointed out that the goods that people buy and use are closely related to their status in society.

He coined the term status symbol to describe this relationship.Weber also wrote about how classes and status groups are differentiated on the basis of their lifestyles.Sociologists study consumption patterns and lifestyles because of their cultural and social significance in modern life.

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