Beyond commodification: re‐reading the future of work

Colin C. Williams (Professor of Work Organization at the University of Leicester Management Centre, University of Leicester, Leicester, UK)


ISSN: 1463-6689

Publication date: 1 December 2004


A widely held supposition is that goods and services are increasingly produced and delivered for monetised exchange by capitalist firms in pursuit of profit. The result of this view of an ongoing encroachment of the market is that there is only one perceived future for work and it is one characterised by an ever more commodified world. The aim of this paper is to evaluate critically this discourse. Analysing the balance between commodified and non‐commodified work in the advanced economies, a large non‐commodified sphere is identified that, if anything, is found to be expanding relative to the commodified realm. Rather than reading the future of work as a natural and unstoppable progression towards a victorious, all‐powerful and hegemonic commodity economy, this paper thus opens up the feasibility of alternative futures beyond a commodified world.



Williams, C. (2004), "Beyond commodification: re‐reading the future of work", Foresight, Vol. 6 No. 6, pp. 329-337.

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Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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