Today’s Definition of “Reification” according to Jameson

In his book Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Jameson offers a new clear cut definition of “reification” for the postmodern era. For Jameson, the standard definition of “reification” as vulgar Marxists would believe, i.e. “the transformation of social relationship into things,” has now become only the second nature of reification. His new definition can be found in a full paragraph below:

The other definition of reification that has been important in recent years is the “effacement of the traces of production” from the object itself, from the commodity thereby produced. This sees the matter from the standpoint of the consumer: it suggests the kind of guilt people are freed from if they are able not to remember the work that went into their toys and furnishings. Indeed, the point of having yourown object world, and walls and muffled distance or relative silence all around you, is to forget about all those innumerable others for a while; you don’t want tohave to think about Third World women every time you pull yourself up to your word processor, orall the other lower-class people with their lower-class lives when you decide to use or consume your other luxury products: it would be like having voices inside your head; indeed, it “violates” the intimate space of your privacy and your extended body. For a society that wants to forget about class, therefore,reification in this consumer-packaging sense is veryfunctional indeed; consumerism as a culture involves much more than this, but this kind of “effacement” is surely the indispensable precondition on which all the rest can be constructed. (314-315)

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