Cannibal Or Commodity Fetish: Body As Material Interaction

Ai-Ling Lai, University of Gloucestershire, UK
Janine Dermody, University of Gloucestershire, UK
This paper seeks to address the call to bridge the dichotomous divide between subject and object within consumer research. Adopting an embodied perspective and drawing on our empirical research, we highlight the paradoxical meanings surrounding the fetishization of the body as a commoditized object as well as a kernel of personal history. We explore the extent to which participants are willing to overcome the depersonalizing transformation to their embodied self, as they negotiate the meanings surrounding the progressive objectification of the body, inherent in the practice of organ transplantation. Our analysis suggests the difficulty in delineating where the embodied subject ends (donor as self) and the commoditized object (donor as cadaver) begins. As such, the boundaries that mark the agentic capability of the embodied donor as commodity/intentional subject are mutable, indeterminate and intersubjectively emergent. We therefore seek to create a dialogue among consumer scholars to reconsider the body as the 'material interaction' between consuming subjects and material objects. Only in so doing, can we begin to advance the discipline beyond its essentialist roots.
[ to cite ]:
Ai-Ling Lai and Janine Dermody (2009) ,"Cannibal Or Commodity Fetish: Body As Material Interaction", in NA - Advances in Consumer Research Volume 36, eds. Ann L. McGill and Sharon Shavitt, Duluth, MN : Association for Consumer Research, Pages: 339-347.