Decommodification as a concept comes from the idea that in a market economy, individual persons (and their labor) are commodified. Given that labor is the individual's primary commodity in the market, decommodification refers to activities and efforts (generally by the government) that reduce individuals' reliance on the market (and their labor) for their well-being. In general, unemployment, sickness insurance and pensions are used to measure decommodification for comparisons of the welfare state.
Decommodificaton is the strength of social entitlements and citizens' degree of immunization from market dependency.
Decommodification is the process of viewing utilities as an entitlement, rather than as a commodity that must be paid or traded for. In effect, a decommodified product removes itself from the market, and can be associated with welfarism. An example of decommodification would be the removal of tolls from a toll road or the internet before becoming mostly supported by private ISPs.
Decommodification has been identified as a strategy for sustainable consumption that acts one level up on the institutional context of consumption in Western societies as compared to strategies such as eco-efficiency and eco-sufficiency. Thus, while the eco-efficiency strategy targets the product and the eco-sufficiency strategy targets the person (the consumer as decision-maker), the decommodification strategy targets the institutional context in which consumption takes place. It aims to decrease the influence of commodities and to limit the effect of commercialisation.
Decommodification of Labor Theory (DLT) is a criminological theory that focuses on the intersection of homicide and the free-market capitalist system. It argues that there is a direct relationship between the commodification of the social being and the propensity to engage in a major anti-social act (i.e. homicide)
Theory DLT is a synthesis of Esping-Andersen’s (1990) economic theory of commodification and the macrosocial institutional-anomie theory of crime, first proposed by Messner and Rosenfeld in Crime and the American Dream (1992)
DLT hypothesizes that decommodification of labor is negatively related to homicide rates, an inverse relationship that argues for social services to mitigate antisocial behavior through: (1) ease of access, (2) income-replacement value and (3) the range of social statuses and conditions covered
DLT argues that decommodification of labor lowers economic dominance and reduces "anomic pressure" (i.e. loss of values/morals) resulting in a reduction of antisocial behavior.
Esping-Andersen, Gosta. 1990. The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Princeton University Press.
Messner, Steven F., and Richard Rosenfeld. 1997. Crime and the American Dream. 2d ed. Wadsworth
Messner, Steven F., and Richard Rosenfeld. 1997. Political Restraint of the Market and Levels of Criminal Homicide. Social Forces 75(4) 1393-1416
More on decommodification of information can be found at this World Social Forum page.
- "To understand the concept, de-commodification should not be confused with the complete eradication of labor as a commodity; it is not an issue of all or nothing. Rather, the concept refers to the degree to which individuals, or families, can uphold a socially acceptable standard of living independently of market participation. [...] When work approaches free choice rather than necessity, de-commodification may amount to de-proletarianization." Gøsta Esping-Anderson. 1990. The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Princeton.
- Boulanger, P.M. (2010) “Three strategies for sustainable consumption”. S.A.P.I.EN.S. 3 (2)