From commodity fetishism to commodity narcissism

Robert Cluley, Stephen Brendan Dunne

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Marketing and consumer researchers have taken an increasing interest in the prevalence of and possibilities for enlightened consumerism. Contemporary studies show us, though, that ethically concerned consumers rarely act on their concerns – instead they act as if they were unenlightened about the negative effects of their consumption. The paper advances a theory for this contradiction that draws on Marx’s work on commodity fetishism and Freud’s analysis of sexual fetishism. In an attempt to reconcile the structural contexts of contemporary consumption with the psychic structures of the consuming subject proposed by each theorist, the paper concludes that narcissism, rather than fetishism, offers an explanation of this as if moment of contemporary consumption.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-265
JournalMarketing Theory
Issue number3
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Oct 2012


  • commodity
  • fetishism
  • ethical consumption
  • Freud
  • Marx
  • narcissism


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