Commodity Fetishism

From breakfast to diamonds;  time consciousness to reggae. To add to my collection of Bristol’s best digested dissertations, Amelia Butler (Geography BSc) explains why she followed the journey of the apple- from the orchard to the pint glass.

In our capitalist society, the journey products take to get to our supermarket shelves, and the lives involved in the production of our commodities, are often unconsidered.

This is because marketing and advertising techniques have a fetish-like power that masks the story of those who fashioned them. ‘Commodity fetishism’ is the phrase coined by Karl Marx; the commodity is a material thing with instrumental value, and fetishism is our attachment to the product.


Arrive at the pub.

“Pint of Bulmers cider please.”

It’s made in Herefordshire where I live, but that was all I knew. It’s a commodity that I had grown up with but made no further connections to. I never considered the long journey the cider apple had taken to satisfy my lifestyle. I had never even considered the people who live in the same county as me, making the commodity I’m so proud of.


I wanted to get behind Marx’s ‘veil’ of commodity fetishism and think about cider in a new way. I was eager to make connections: meet the farmers, the factory workers, the site managers, the marketing departments the barmen and the consumers. So I did it. I got right to the root of it. Or more specifically, right to the core. So I can tell the journey of the cider apple. From pip to sip…



This piece was originally published for Helicon Magazine’s weekly Features column

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